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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-05-14

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 MARIE OKABE

DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON

FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, May 14, 2009

MYANMAR: BAN KI-MOON IS GRAVELY CONCERNED OVER CRIMINAL CHARGES FACING AUNG SAN SUU KYI

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is gravely

concerned about the news that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved to the Insein Prison to face criminal charges.

The Secretary-General believes that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is an essential partner for dialogue in Myanmars national reconciliation and calls on the Government not to take any further action that could undermine this important process.

As he has said repeatedly, the Secretary-General believes strongly that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all those who have a contribution to make to the future of their country must be free to be able to do so to ensure that the political process is credible.

BAN KI-MOON IS SENDING HIS CHIEF OF STAFF TO SRI LANKA

The

Security Council discussed Sri Lanka, under other matters, in its consultations yesterday, and the Council President, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia,

told reporters in the afternoon that Security Council members expressed grave concern over the worsening crisis in North-East Sri Lanka, in particular the reports of hundreds of civilian casualties in recent days.

Council members strongly condemned the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for its continued use of civilians as human shields. They demanded that it lay down its arms and allow the tens of thousands of civilians in the conflict zone to leave. They also expressed deep concern at the reports of the continued use of heavy caliber weapons in areas with high concentrations of civilians and expected to the Government of Sri Lanka to fulfill its commitment in this regard.

The members of the Security Council reiterated their support for the personal involvement of the Secretary-General. They also urged the Government of Sri Lanka to extend full cooperation to the United Nations in order to resolve the humanitarian crisis.

In that regard, the Secretary-General spoke by telephone yesterday with President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka. He reiterated his concerns about the protection of civilians there.

In a statement issued earlier this week, the Secretary-General

urged the Government of Sri Lanka to explore all possible options to bring the conflict to an end without further bloodshed and to make public the terms under which that can be achieved without further loss of civilian life. He urged the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to give sober and positive consideration of those terms.

The Secretary-General is sending his Chef de Cabinet, Vijay Nambiar, to Sri Lanka to underscore his message and help to resolve the humanitarian situation there.

Asked whether the Secretary-General would push for an unconditional cease-fire, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General has repeatedly called on all sides to halt and act in accordance with protecting civilian lives. She said that he has repeatedly spoken to President Rajapaksa to underscore that the world is watching and would not tolerate further violations of humanitarian law.

The fact that the Secretary-General is sending his Chef de Cabinet, Okabe said, shows the efforts that he is making to resolve the conflict.

Asked why the United Nations would send Nambiar, an Indian national, to Sri Lanka, the Spokeswoman made clear that the Chef de Cabinet is an international civil servant, and reiterated UN policy that all staff work for the United Nations and not on behalf of any nationality.

In response to further questions, Okabe said that the Secretary-General is seriously considering visiting Sri Lanka, He had made it clear that he would consider traveling there if he believes that it could help to save lives.

HEAVY FIGHTING CONTINUES IN SRI LANKA, CIVILIANS IN DESPERATE NEED OF SUPPLIES AND FOOD

Heavy fighting in the conflict zone is reportedly continuing, with heavy casualties, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The last food shipment to the Conflict Zone was 8 May, and civilians trapped in the area are in desperate need of food and supplies.

Earlier today, two ships of the International Committee of the Red Cross carrying 25 tons and 500 tons respectively of mixed food commodities were unable to discharge cargo in the conflict zone due to continuous heavy fighting.

Yesterday, an ICRC flagged ship carrying 25 tons of food also turned back due to fighting in the conflict zone. Both food and water are desperately needed.

More than 198,000 persons have now crossed to the Government controlled areas from the conflict zone. Of those, nearly 196,000 people are accommodated in temporary, overcrowded camps.

There is an urgent need to decongest some transit sites in Vavuniya. In some cases, five or six families are living inside one tent. The Government has now decided to immediately begin the decongestion process. From hereon, only two families will be accommodated in each tent.

Aid agencies, including UNHCR, have constructed 8,000 shelters and erected more than 9,000 tents to accommodate the new arrivals in the districts of Vavuniya, Jaffna and Trincomalee. They are also carrying out regular distribution of non-food items and protection monitoring at the sites.

PAKISTAN: HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES VISITS CAMPS, ASKS FOR MASSIVE AID EFFORT

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres is in Pakistan, where he will visit UNHCRs area of operations through Sunday and examine how the Agency is dealing with the recent displacements. He visited camps for internally displaced persons in Swabi and Mardan today and will go on to visit Peshawar this weekend.

The High Commissioner

called today for a massive international aid effort for more than 800,000 Pakistanis recently uprooted by fighting in the country's north-west. He said he felt an obligation to come to the country and express his personal solidarity with the Pakistani people. This is not a moment for small gestures, he added, who said it was time for the international community to repay Pakistan for its generosity in hosting millions of Afghan refugees over the years.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that the number of people who have fled the fighting in northwest Pakistan this month and been registered or recorded by authorities reached 670,906 on Wednesday, up from just over half a million the day before.

The majority of those registered by Pakistani authorities with the assistance of UNHCR are staying in the homes of friends and relatives or camping out in the open; a fraction of the total just under 80,000 are now living in camps.

The continuing exodus brings to the total number of people displaced in Pakistan since August 2008 to more than 1.2 million.

UNHCR believes the total number of people who have fled the fighting in recent weeks could be much higher, since many of those fleeing the fighting between Government forces and militants have not yet registered with authorities.

U.N. MISSION IN DR CONGO CONDEMNS DEADLY ATTACK ON CIVILIANS IN NORTHEAST

The Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has

condemned a recent deadly rebel attack on civilians and Congolese soldiers in the northeastern Walikale region. The Mission says the attack occurred less than a week ago. It says it has also launched an investigation into it. The incident claimed at least 35 lives, according to local villagers. Some 15,000 residents of the region also fled their homes in its wake.

Alan Doss, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for the DRC, has said that such attacks stress the need to beef up the Congolese army so that it can adequately protect civilian populations.

SOMALIA ENVOY CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE AID TO ALLEVIATE CIVILIAN SUFFERING

The UN Special Representative for

Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, is accusing the extremists who are attacking Mogadishu of being directly responsible for the current suffering and misery of tens of thousands of Somali civilians.

He said that the latest fighting had led to the deaths and displacement of ordinary Somalis, many of whom only recently returned home hoping to restart their lives.

He added that the Somali people needed urgent help and called on the international community to step forward.

Ould-Abdallah urged concerned Governments to move quickly to provide direct bilateral assistance to the Somali Government.

SECURITY COUNCIL MISSION HEADS ON FOUR-COUNTRY VISIT TO AFRICA

The

Security Council is sending a mission to Africa, which is leaving this afternoon and will visit four countries over the next week.

The Council mission intends to travel to Ethiopia, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Liberia. The Ambassadors of France, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States will lead or co-lead the different segments of the trip.

The missions composition and its terms of reference are included in a

letter from the President of the Security Council that is out as a document today.

CHAD/CAR MISSION WELCOMES 131 PEACEKEEPERS FROM GHANA

The Mission in Chad and the Central African Republic (MINURCAT) has welcomed into its ranks 131 new peacekeepers from Ghana. The new arrivals join 71 other troops from Ghana. The mission plans to deploy them in the eastern Farchana region of Chad.

It expects to have a total of 800 troops from Ghana when the UN force reaches its mandated full strength of some 5,200 peacekeepers.

The Missions mandate includes the protection of civilians in danger, particularly refugees from neighboring Darfur and displaced Chadians. It also helps to deliver humanitarian aid and ensures the free movement of aid workers.

UNRWA MARKS 60TH ANNIVERSARY

This year, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is marking its 60th

anniversary. According to UNRWA, 2009 is a time for sober reflection but also an opportunity to showcase UNRWA's six decades of work alongside millions of Palestine refugees.

Activities are planned across the world in locations including New York, Vienna, Brussels, and Beirut. The events will be launched in Ramallah tomorrow by Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd. Sixty blue balloons, each carrying the wishes of Palestine refugee children, will be released.

Meanwhile, Pope Benedict XVI

visited an UNRWA camp near Bethlehem yesterday. He announced a pledge of 50,000 euros, which will allow for the building of three new classrooms at a boys school.

The Pope stressed that a commitment to education is an expression of "hope in the future." And Karen AbuZayd said she hoped the Popes message will resonate with those entrusted with the privilege of political authority and encourage them to work together to achieve a just and lasting peace.

CYPRUS LEADERS CONTINUE TALK ON ECONOMIC MATTERS

Talks between the Cyprus leaders continued today in Nicosia under UN auspices.

Speaking after the leaders meeting, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Cyprus, Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, told the press that the leaders had held a one hour tête-à-tête. During that time, their representatives continued their discussions on economic matters.

The leaders will meet again on Thursday, 21 May. At that time, they will review the progress made by their representatives on the economic discussions. The Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer, will be present for that meeting.

OFFICIALS FROM KIRKUK DRAWS ON NORTHERN IRELAND LESSONS

Last week, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) organized a four-day visit to Northern Ireland for a range of officials from Kirkuk. While recognizing that every disputed situation in the world has its own unique circumstances, it was felt that the successful experience of conflict resolution that has taken place in Northern Ireland over the past 12 years contains some useful lessons for resolving the issue of Kirkuk.

The Mission says that a consistent message given to the Kirkuk delegation by the leaders of both Northern Irish communities was the essential importance of accepting that maximalist goals which take no account of the concerns and historical narrative of the other side can never be achieved. The result of such an approach is likely to be endless bloodshed.

INFLUENZA A (H1N1): W.H.O. CAUTIONS PEOPLE NOT TO "OVER-WORRY"

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

notes that, as of today, 33 countries have officially reported nearly 6,500 cases of infection.

But despite the fact that the numbers have increased, WHO is cautioning people not to over-worry.

The agency acknowledges that the situation is serious and requires close monitoring. But it also notes that most cases at this time continue to be mild, and that the vast majority of cases have been reported in just two countries: the United States and Mexico.

WHO adds that, if it sees changes in severity, it will let world know.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY AND CONFERENCE MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT

The Secretary-General today announced the appointment of Franz Baumann of the Federal Republic of Germany as Assistant Secretary-General, Department for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM). Mr. Baumann will replace Mr. Yohannes Mengesha. The Secretary-General is grateful for the valuable services he rendered to DGACM and to the United Nations.

Mr. Baumann brings to this position extensive experience in management within the United Nations and a deep understanding of the issues facing the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management. In his career with the Organization, Mr. Baumann has been a strong advocate for reform and for the introduction of new and improved management and technological solutions to achieve better the objectives of the Organization. As the Executive Officer of the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management from 1996 to 2002, Mr. Baumann helped to shape some of the early reforms which have come into effect throughout the Department.

Mr. Baumann holds degrees in Public Administration from the University of Konstanz and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Carleton University, Ottawa.

Born in Schramberg, Germany, in 1953, Mr. Baumann is married and has one daughter.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

UNITED NATIONS PARTNERS WITH FILMMAKERS TO GIVE VOICE TO WOMEN SUFFERING IN SILENCE: The Secretary-General

appealed today to an audience of film makers and story tellers to help translate the Millennium Development Goals in human terms, and bring into focus the lives of real women and men, their struggles and their triumphs. The Secretary-General was the guest speaker at a two-day event launched this morning by the Department of Public Information and the Independent Filmmaker Project at the Directors Guild of America Theater in Manhattan. The objective is simple, the Secretary-General said, to harness the creative talents of the international filmmaking community to the United Nations bandwagon. Together, he said, we want to help the world see and believe in a better future. This year, the film forum entitled Envision: Addressing Global Issues through Documentaries, is paying special attention to women and will feature documentaries focusing on micro-credit, violence against women, child abuse, peace and reconciliation and women in traditional societies. It is part of the United Nations outreach to the creative community to bring critical global issues to a larger audience.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO STRESS IMPORTANCE OF ADAPTATION MEASURES IN FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE: This afternoon, the Secretary-General will speak at the launch of the report of the Commission on Climate Change and Development. The document looks at the links between development and climate change and highlights the importance of adaptation. The Secretary-General is expected to underline the need to support such adaptation measures in favor of the worlds poor. He will say that adaptation is a key element in the negotiations for a new climate deal, in Copenhagen in December. The Secretary-General will also stress the importance of leadership and commitment at the highest level to resolve key issues before that date.

BAN KI-MOON TO CALL ON STUDENTS TO LEARN ABOUT THE U.N. AND TRAIN TO BE INTERNATIONAL LEADERS: The Secretary-General will also speak tonight at a Model UN event, here at Headquarters. In his remarks to this UNA-USA sponsored conference, he is expected to stress the importance of the younger generation spending time and energy learning about the United Nations and training to be leaders on the international scene. He will also encourage the students, during this conference, to look not only at how issues affect each country but also at how they interact with each other in order to come up with solutions that have the potential to put the world on course toward lasting peace and prosperity.

MANAGEMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES ESSENTIAL TO AFRICAS FUTURE FOOD SECURITY: The UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) is

shedding light on how the surge in hunger may be avoided through new smart technology, and it warns that the situation is urgent. It says that delivering food security to an additional 1 billion people in Africa will become more challenging over the next four decades unless we introduce more intelligent management of natural resources and emerging opportunities. The report, "The Environmental Food Crisis", was launched today at the 17th session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development

  • ** The guest at the noon briefing today was, Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, who provided an update on the climate change negotiations.
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