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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-05-15

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

U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, May 15, 2009

U.N. SPECIAL ADVISOR ON PREVENTION OF GENOCIDE CALLS FOR PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS IN SRI LANKA

The Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Francis Deng, issued a statement on Sri Lanka today.

In it, Deng says that both sides in the current fighting in Sri Lanka have been repeatedly urged by the Secretary-General to respect international human rights and humanitarian law obligations, particularly to prevent unlawful killings and accord protection to civilians and detainees. He adds that women and girls are particularly vulnerable to excesses of conflict and the Government has a legal obligation to give them special protection.

The two sides should be reminded that individuals can be held personally responsible for war crimes and other international crimes committed in the course of conflict and which attract international jurisdiction, he says.

The Special Advisor also stresses that the Government should allow the United Nations, and other international humanitarian and aid organizations full and unfettered access to all civilians and detainees in places of detention and processing centers, including all sites for the internally displaced.

It is not too late for the Government and the LTTE to put an end to an increasingly brutal conflict and pursue a reconciliatory and peaceful path with the ethnic Tamil population, says Deng, adding that this polarizing conflict is identity related with ethnicity and religion as deeply divisive factors. He underlines that it will not end with winners and losers and it cannot be ended solely through a military victory that may not be sustainable in the long run unless legitimate grievances are addressed.

Deng further says that the LTTE must immediately cease holding human shields and let civilians leave the conflict area. The Government is urged to work with the international community to initiate a political process, he adds, to create a national framework in which all Sri Lankans can co-exist as equal citizens.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today reiterated that the loss of civilian life and the situation of civilians trapped in the conflict zone are unacceptable. OCHA also spoke out today against the use of heavy weapons and of civilians as human shields. According to OCHA, at least 50,000 people remain trapped in the conflict zone. Yet the 2009 Humanitarian Appeal for Sri Lanka remains only 39 per cent funded.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) has started providing

cooked meals at a government screening point to feed thousands of desperate people fleeing the conflict zone. The agency says that, for many, this will be the first hot meal they have had in days or perhaps much longer. WFP is now feeding almost 200,000 internally displaced persons in northern Sri Lanka.

UNICEF is supporting international efforts to provide water for drinking and cooking to displaced Sri Lankans. And the World Health Organization is providing medicines and equipment to bolster surgery capacities to health facilities for the displaced.

In related news, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said today that it believes some sort of independent commission of inquiry is essential given the conduct of this war and the number civilians who have been killed.

Asked to clarify the mandate of the Secretary-Generals Chef de Cabinet, who had just arrived in Sri Lanka, the Spokesperson said the purpose of his visit was to push forward the Secretary-Generals agenda, which involved asking for restraint, and negotiations to allow the endangered civilians to leave the conflict zone.

Asked if a ship carrying food aid from WFP had been able to reach civilians trapped in the conflict zone, the Spokesperson said that it had not. She noted, however, that WFP had been able to and would continue to deliver food to internally displaced persons who had managed to flee the conflict zone. Montas added that it was difficult to get information on civilians trapped in the conflict zone, but she stressed that they needed humanitarian aid.

PAKISTAN: MASSIVE HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE NEEDED FOR NEARLY 1 MILLION UPROOTED

As the number of people uprooted this month by the current conflict in north-west Pakistan neared 1 million, the High Commissioner for Refugees

says that the speed and size of the displacement made it "absolutely essential" that the international community mount an immediate and massive humanitarian response.

António Guterres, on the second day of a three-day mission to Pakistan to show solidarity with the Pakistani people and to assess his agency's humanitarian response, noted that the almost 1 million displaced people so far registered this month by authorities and UNHCR are in addition to another 550,000 uprooted people who fled fighting since last August.

According to the latest figures, 987,140 people have been registered from the current influx, including 907,298 outside camps and 79,842 in camps.

When asked by reporters if the huge numbers of displaced people could destabilize Pakistan, Guterres replied that while UNHCR focuses on the humanitarian aspects of the current crisis, "obviously this is a region where the geo-political context cannot be ignored."

UNHCR, which has had a major presence in Pakistan after decades of helping Afghan refugees, started distributing aid from stocks in the country as soon as the dimensions of the current crisis became clear.

Meanwhile, the acting Humanitarian Coordinator and UNICEF Representative in Pakistan, Martin Mogwanja said a major funding appeal would be launched next week to the international community.

Mr. Mogwanja also said the situation in the conflict areas was not known. He said due to the security considerations, all the NGOs and humanitarian workers had left the conflict zone. With regard to safe corridors, the humanitarian community was considering this, but it was very difficult to make the necessary contacts and obtain the necessary guarantees of safety and security.

Asked about what happened to food aid that was turned away from the trapped civilians, the Spokesperson said she was confident that it would be given to people who needed it, as UN agencies were helping the thousands of internally displaced people in the camps.

BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES ANNOUNCEMENT OF IVORIAN ELECTION DATE

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

welcomes the announcement by the Government of Côte dIvoire of 29 November 2009 as the date for holding the long-awaited presidential election. The Secretary-General notes that this date was set based on advice received from the Independent Electoral Commission.

He urges all Ivorian parties to respect this date and to work together to complete the remaining tasks related to the electoral process. The Secretary-General assures the Ivorian parties that the United Nations will continue to provide the necessary support to help them organize and conduct free, fair and credible elections, including through the certification mandate of his Special Representative for Côte dIvoire.

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF CALLS FOR AUNG SAN SUU KYIS RELEASE

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay issued her own

statement, deploring Aung San Suu Kyis ongoing persecution, and calling for her immediate and unconditional release. Pillay said that the continued detention, and now this latest trial, breach international standards of due process and fair trial.

Pillay added that the Myanmar authorities might claim that Aung San Suu Kyi has breached the conditions of her detention. But they have actually broken both their own laws and their international human rights obligations. Aung San Suu Kyi should not be detained in the first place, the High Commissioner said.

SECURITY COUNCIL URGES FULL SUPPORT FOR SOMALI GOVERNMENT,

VOICES CONCERN OVER HUMANITARIAN SITUATION

The Security Council adopted a Presidential Statement on Somalia this morning.

In it, the Security Council urges the international community to provide its full support to the Transitional Federal Government in order to strengthen the National Security Force and the Somali Police force. It also reiterates its support for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISON) and condemns any hostilities towards its troops.

The Security Council also expresses its concern at the loss of life and the worsening humanitarian situation arising out of the renewed fighting and calls on all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular to respect the security of civilians, humanitarian workers and AMISOM personnel.

The members of the Security Council also express their concern over reports that Eritrea has supplied arms to those opposing the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia in breach of the UN arms embargo, and calls on the Sanctions Monitoring Group to investigate. The ongoing attempts to take power by force can only delay the political process and prolong the suffering of the Somali people, says the Security Council.

Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is deeply

concerned about the week-long clashes in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

It says that this latest fighting --some of the heaviest seen this year between forces loyal to the Transitional Federal Government and opposition groups-- has so far claimed the lives of more than 135 people and 315 injured. The Agency also says that the rate of displacement is rapidly increasing as the conflict escalates. An estimated 30,000 people have already fled the capital.

UNHCR reports that hospitals in central Mogadishu are overwhelmed by the large number of casualties. Meanwhile, some people have been trapped in their homes for days, unable to flee because of the raging street battles.

According to UNHCR, those who are able to escape speak of indiscriminate nightly bombings of residential areas and the targeting of civilians. Among these newly displaced are families that had recently returned home following a period of relative peace in Mogadishu.

EMERGENCY APPEALS FOR CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA LACK FUNDS

The Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that only 27% of the

Consolidated Appeals it has made to respond to emergencies in counties in Central and East Africa has so far been funded. It adds that the region has some of the greatest humanitarian needs in the world.

The seven appeals, launched in November 2008, seek to respond to emergencies in Central and East Africa, a. The seven countries are Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.

According to the Financial Tracking System (FTS) --a global, real-time database which records all reported international humanitarian aid--, only $1.433 billion of the $5.297 billion required by these appeals have been contributed as of 1 April 2009.

Available contributions for individual countries range from as low as two percent to 35 percent. Uganda for example requires more than $225 million, but only $3.9 million or 2 percent of the total is available. Chad, where $386.7 million is required, has so far received $133.7 million or 35 percent of the total requirements, the highest of the seven countries.

SECRETARY-GENERAL UNDERLINES TIMELESS IMPORTANCE OF MOTHER ON INTERNATIONAL DAYS OF FAMILIES

Today marks the International Day of Families. The commemoration this year focuses on the important role of mothers for families and communities around the world.

In a

message, the Secretary-General underlines the critical role of mothers in the family. He adds that they are a powerful force for social cohesion and integration and are also caregivers and breadwinners for their families. Yet, he says, women continue to face major and even life-threatening challenges in motherhood.

Stressing the timeless importance of mothers and their invaluable contribution to raising the next generation, the Secretary-General says that we can secure a better future for all by rewarding their efforts and enhancing their living conditions.

U.N. CALLS TO ELIMINATE DISCRIMINATION ON INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé today released a

statement ahead of the International Day Against Homophobia, which will be observed worldwide this Sunday.

Sidibé urged all governments to take steps to eliminate stigma and discrimination faced by men who have sex with men, lesbians and transgender populations. He added that governments must also create social and legal environments that ensure respect for human rights and enable universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

Also in observance of the occasion, UNAIDS and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) are

launching a plan to encourage new and better approaches to HIV, specifically focusing on men who have sex with men and on transgender populations.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO COMMEMORATE BUDDHIST DAY OF VESAK: The Commemoration of the Buddhist Day of Vesak will be held this afternoon at UN headquarters. The commemoration will include an opening ceremony, formal religious ceremonies, cultural performances, and a dinner reception. The Secretary-General is scheduled to attend the opening ceremony. In his opening remarks, he is expected to talk about how the Buddhas spirit of compassion and his timeless teachings can help us navigate the many global problems that we face today. The Secretary-General will reiterate that global problems such as the financial crisis, climate change, pandemics, terrorism and other international threats prove that the fates of all people are linked.

SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS WITH FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR IN COURTESY CALL: Asked why the Secretary-General was meeting today with former US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad, the Spokesperson said the meeting was a personal courtesy call.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WILL HEAR DEBRIEFING OF NIGER ENVOY: Asked about the Secretary-Generals meeting with Special Envoy Robert Fowler today, the Spokesperson said this would be Mr. Fowler's first visit to UN Headquarters following his release from captivity. Today he would be debriefing with the Secretary-General and other senior officials in the Organization. Montas added that Mr. Fowler is still the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for Niger.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR A SAFE VIRTUAL WORLD: Sunday will mark World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. The theme this year is "Protecting Children in Cyberspace. In a message to mark this occasion, the Secretary-General says that the virtual world has exciting possibilities for nurturing children and helping them grow into creative, productive adults. But, he adds, we must mind the pitfalls that could scar them for life. He urges policy makers and industry leaders to find the means to make the rapidly evolving virtual world safe for everyone.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

Saturday, 16 May

Tonight, in Paris, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., UNESCO Headquarters will open its doors to the public, as part of the European Night of Museums.

Sunday, 17 May

Today is World Telecommunication and Information Society Day.

The Secretary-General will be in Manama, Bahrain, to launch the 2009 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction.

Monday, 18 May

Starting today, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues will hold its eighth session until 29 May. The opening meeting will be held at 11 a.m. in Conference Room 4.

At 1.30 p.m. in Room-S226, there will be a press conference by Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Lars Anders Baer and Carsten Smith, members of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The 62nd session of the World Health Assembly opens today in Geneva and runs through 22 May.

Today through 3 July, the Conference on Disarmament convenes the second part of its 2009 Session in Geneva.

Today and tomorrow, in Geneva, UNCTAD will hold a public symposium, on "The global economic crisis and development - the way forward." Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, will participate in the event which will address the causes and multiple impacts of the global crisis, limitations and best practices of current responses to the crisis; and proposals for the way forward.

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum opens today in Geneva and runs through 22 May. The Forum, hosted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), UNESCO, UNCTAD and UNDP will hold six high-level panels to address issues critical to the WSIS implementation and follow-up process.

Tuesday, 19 May

The Secretary-General will in Geneva, Switzerland. There, after addressing the Conference on Disarmament, he will participate in the World Health Assembly and meet with representatives of vaccine companies. The Secretary-General will also hold a joint press conference with WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chang.

Starting today and until 22 May, the Sixth International Conference on Adult Education, organized by UNESCO, will be held in Belém Brazil.

At 10 a.m. in Room-S226, Sarbuland Khan from the UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID) and Shai Reshef from the University of the People, brief on an online initiative aimed at bridging the gap between unprecedented access to the Internet, dropping technology costs and rising tuitions worldwide.

Wednesday, 20 May

At 11 a.m. in Room-S226, Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and Susana Malcorra, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, brief on the latest developments and challenges in peacekeeping.

Thursday, 21 May

The Secretary-General is in Washington, D.C. where he will speak at the commencement at Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

The guests at the noon briefing will be Angela Kane, Under-Secretary-General for Management, and Jun Yamazaki, Assistant Secretary-General and Controller.

Friday, 22 May

Today is the International Day for Biological Diversity.

Today, the Security Council will hold consultations on the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. It will also hear a briefing and hold consultations on Sudan.

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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