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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-05-18

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 MARIE OKABE

DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON

FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, May 18, 2009

BAN KI-MOON IS CONSIDERING VISIT TO SRI LANKA

Asked about the UNs position on latest developments in Sri Lanka, the Deputy Spokesperson noted that the Government of Sri Lanka has declared that its military operation against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the northeast of the country has come to a conclusion and that all the civilians in the last pocket of active conflict had come out of the area. It is too early for the United Nations to give an assessment of the situation in the area, she added.

The United Nations is watching the situation very closely, Okabe said.

The Secretary-Generals Chef de Cabinet, Vijay Nambiar, remains in Sri Lanka and is engaged in close consultation with government officials and others on how best to respond to the humanitarian situation of the large number of internally displaced persons and initiate a process for early recovery and longer term reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

The Deputy Spokesperson added that the situation calls for maximum care and restraint in dealing with the large number of civilians and their humanitarian and security needs as well as with surrendering LTTE cadres.

Asked about a reported possible visit by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to Sri Lanka, the Deputy Spokesperson said she had nothing official to announce. But Secretary-General is considering such a visit, she noted.

Okabe added that the Secretary-General, as he has repeatedly said, is primarily focused on the conditions of civilians in camps for internally displaced persons and reception centers under Government control. In the medium term, she said the Secretary-General is focused on those civilians reintegration - and above all on deliberate and appropriate measures to put in place a process and a solution for a long-term resolution of the conflict.

BAN KI-MOON TO ADDRESS WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY IN GENEVA

The Secretary-General has arrived in Geneva where tomorrow he will address the World Health Assembly, meet with representatives of flu vaccine companies, visit the World Health Organizations Centre for Strategic Health Operations, and hold a press conference.

The

World Health Assembly, which is the supreme decision-making body for the World Health Organization (WHO), is starting its 62nd session today in Geneva.

The Assembly plans to discuss a number of public health issues, such as pandemic influenza preparedness. In that regard, participants expect to discuss the sharing of influenza viruses and access to vaccines.

Also on the Assemblys agenda are: implementation of the International Health Regulations; primary health care, including health system strengthening; social determinants of health; and monitoring the achievement of the health-related Millennium Development Goals. The Assembly will also discuss WHOs programme budget, administration, and management matters.

W.H.O. HEAD ADDRESSES HIGH-LEVEL CONSULTATION ON INFLUENZA A

Today in Geneva, Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), addressed a high-level consultation on pandemic influenza A(H1N1).

She told participants, We are all under pressure to make urgent and far-reaching decisions in an atmosphere of considerable scientific uncertainty.

She also said the following to those gathered: The job of managing public perceptions and behaviors also falls on our shoulders. We need to warn the public when necessary, but reassure them whenever possible. This is a difficult balancing act.

In additional remarks to the opening of the World Health Assembly today, Dr. Chan said: Influenza viruses have the great advantage of surprise on their side. But viruses are not smart. We are.

Meanwhile, according to WHOs latest tally, 40 countries have now officially reported 8,829 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection. That figure includes 74 deaths.

BAN KI-MOON URGES MORE INVESTMENTS IN DISASTER RISK REDUCTION

This morning, before heading to Geneva, the Secretary-General wrapped up a two-day visit to Bahrain, where he had gone to attend the launch of the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction.

In his

remarks at the launch on Sunday, the Secretary-General urged world leaders to invest more in disaster risk reduction. We cannot prevent events such as earthquakes or cyclones, he said. But we can limit their potential for disaster.

While in Bahrain, the Secretary-General met on Sunday with the Foreign Minister of Sudan. The two discussed Sudans Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Darfur, and Sudan-Chad-related issues.

The Secretary-General also met with Bahrains King and Prime Minister, as well as the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Those discussions focused on disaster risk reduction, climate change, and the Middle East, including Gaza.

Also in Bahrain, the Secretary-General

visited the countrys Supreme Council for Women.

UNSAFE CITIES AND CLIMATE CHANGE INCREASE DISASTER RISK FOR MILLIONS WORLDWIDE

The

report on disaster reduction launched yesterday by the Secretary-General in Bahrain stresses that hundreds of millions of people face an increasing disaster risk worldwide. It adds that this is due to unsafe cities and the combined impact of environmental destruction and climate change.

According to the report, recurrent disasters are destroying livelihoods, driven by a lack of government attention, unplanned urbanization and deplorable economic conditions.

The report brings together data from a cross-section of UN, governmental, scientific and academic sources over a 32-year period -- from 1975 to 2007. It reviews and analyses disaster frequency, geography and impact and recommends priorities for reducing risks.

The document will be considered during the Second Session of the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction, to be held in Geneva from 16 to 19 June.

BAN KI-MOON IS CONCERNED OVER TENSIONS AT CHAD-SUDAN BOARDER

According to a statement issued after the noon briefing, the Secretary-General is

concerned by recent violence and tensions in the border area between Chad and Sudan and calls on all parties to cease fighting.

He underscores that there is no military solution to the situation in the sub-region and urges the Governments of Chad and Sudan to refrain from any act that may lead to a further escalation of tensions.

SECURITY COUNCIL MISSION ASSESSES PEACE AND SECURITY IN THE DR CONGO

The

Security Council delegation that is visiting Africa arrived early today in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The members visited the Kiwanja camp for Internally Displaced Persons, near Goma, in North Kivu province. The delegation is meeting with representatives of some thirteen thousand (13,000) internally displaced persons to assess ways to improve the protection of civilians in the region.

The delegation is assessing latest efforts by the Government of the DRC and the United Nations to consolidate peace and security in North Kivu. The Council members will also examine the promotion of economic recovery and development in the DRC.

Upon arrival in Goma from the Rwandan capital, Kigali, the delegation was briefed by the military leadership of the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) about the current UN-backed operations that are being conducted by the Congolese army to address the problems of foreign and local illegal armed groups. They also met with the governor of North Kivu, the humanitarian community and with senior Congolese military and police commanders. The delegation then visited the HEAL AFRICA clinic, which has been taking care of victims of sexual violence.

Tomorrow, members of the Security Council delegation will be in Kinshasa for senior-level meetings with government officials, including President Joseph Kabila.

The current Security Council visit to Africa began in Addis Ababa on Saturday with a

consultative meeting with the African Unions Peace and Security Council. They discussed the situations in Somalia, Sudan, and the resurgence of unconstitutional changes of government in Africa. A joint communiqué was adopted at the end of the discussions.

While in Ethiopia, the Council delegation held talks with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. They reviewed issues of mutual concern including the situation in Somalia and the stalemate in the Ethiopia/Eritrea peace process.

The delegation also heard a briefing on the intra-Congolese dialogue by former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo in his capacity as the Secretary-Generals special envoy for the Great Lakes region.

On Sunday the delegation traveled to Rwanda, where members held consultations with President Paul Kagame. They discussed Rwandas contribution to peace consolidation in the eastern DRC and the Great Lakes region and its role in UN peacekeeping. The delegation also visited the Kigali genocide memorial and the Mutobo reconciliation camp. That facility, which is located some 80 miles outside Kigali, is a Government of Rwanda re-education and reintegration center for former Rwandan rebels returning from the DRC. It is administered with the assistance of the UN Refugee Agency.

DARFUR REBEL LEADER APPEARS FOR FIRST HEARING AT INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

The International Criminal Court, ICC, meeting in The Hague today, held an initial

appearance hearing for the Darfur rebel leader, Bahr Idriss Abu Garda, who is suspected of having committed war crimes in Darfur, Sudan.

Abu Garda, who commands a splinter group of the Justice and Equality Movement, JEM, is charged with three war crimes allegedly committed during an attack on 29 September 2007 against the Haskanita military site of the African Union Peacekeeping Mission, AMIS, in North Darfur. During this attack twelve AMIS soldiers were (allegedly) killed and eight others were severely wounded.

In the first of its kind before the ICC, the suspect presented himself voluntarily to the court, following a summons issued by The Prosecutor.

At the suspects initial appearance, Judge Cuno Tarfusser of Italy, acting as single judge, informed him of the crimes which he is alleged to have committed and of his rights.

After todays initial hearing, Abu Garda is free to leave the country but will be required to return to The Netherlands to attend a confirmation of charges hearing before trial. This will be held within a reasonable time to determine whether or not there are substantial grounds to believe that he committed the crimes charged.

SOMALIA: HUMANITARIAN NEEDS INCREASE AS FIGHTING CONTINUES

On

Somalia, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that humanitarian needs continue to increase in the country due to the continuing violence in Somalia as well as drought conditions.

However, it says that the funding received for the Consolidated Appeal Process so far covers only 35 percent of the $984 million requested.

According to OCHA, at least 3.2 million people -- or 40 percent of the countrys population -- will continue to require humanitarian assistance and livelihood support through September 2009.

Over the course of 2009 the number of severely malnourished children in Mogadishu is projected to be more than 15,000, according to latest estimates by the FAO-managed Food Security Analysis Unit for Somalia.

MORE THAN 11 MILLION DISPLACED IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also

reports that the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees in 16 countries in Central and East Africa now exceeds 11 million -- up from 10.9 million in December 2008.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Somalia and Sudan continue to be the countries with the largest IDP populations. Sudan has over 4 million IDPs, the DRC and Somalia have over 1.3 million IDPs each. OCHA also says that Chad, Kenya, Sudan and Tanzania continue to host the largest number of refugees in the region. Each country hosted over 250,000 refugees at the end of March 2009.

OCHA adds that among the main events that have driven up the number of displaced people are repeated attacks by the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) on civilians in north-eastern DRC and renewed fighting in the eastern North Kivu province.

U.N. MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN AND I.O.M. CALL FOR SAFE HUMANITARIAN ACCESS IN SOUTHWEST

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has joined the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to call for safe humanitarian access for a convoy of IOM trucks that has been trying to reach the area of Farah province in the southwest, where a number of civilians were killed --and others displaced-- two weeks ago as a result of air-strikes.

IOM trucks loaded with food, shelter and clothing supplies meant for about 500 families have been stopped en route because of security concerns.

UNAMA has stressed that safe passage is needed for these supplies to reach people in desperate need. The Mission calls on all parties to respect the neutrality and impartiality of this critical humanitarian effort.

DEPUTY-SECRETARY-GENERAL OPENS FORUM ON INDIGENOUS ISSUES

This morning at U.N. Headquarters, the Deputy Secretary-General

addressed the opening of the 8th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

She said the meeting came at a crucial time when the world was coping with a swarm of crises. These crises, she added, are especially devastating to indigenous communities. The Deputy Secretary-General also said that indigenous peoples continued to suffer from prejudice and marginalization. She called for living up to the words of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted in 2007.

We have to do more than just raise living standards for indigenous peoples, she stressed; we must listen to their voices, heed their warnings and seek their contributions to achieving our shared objectives. She also said that indigenous communities and their wealth of wisdom must be protected, not only to enhance their lives but to serve the interests of all concerned about a healthy future for our planet.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO VISIT DENMARK, FINLAND NEXT WEEK-END

The Secretary-General, this weekend, is set to travel to Denmark to attend the opening of the World Business Summit on Climate Change. While in the Nordic region, he will also make his first official visit to Finland.

Arriving on Sunday for a two-day visit in Copenhagen, the Secretary-General will deliver his opening statement at the business summit, meet with Mr. Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States and Chairman of the Generation Investment Management, and will hold a joint press conference with the Danish Minister for Climate and Energy.

On the occasion of his visit to Copenhagen, the Secretary-General will meet with H.M. Queen Margrethe II, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, and the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, for Development Cooperation, and for Defense.

He will also attend a lunch meeting on Global Compact and Climate hosted by the Minister for Development Cooperation and the Nordic Compact Network, and deliver remarks at a dinner co-hosted by the Global Compact & the UN Foundation with leading CEOs attending the World Business Summit on Climate Change.

His visit in Denmark will be capped off with a Public Dialogue meeting titled Relaying the World - Global Crisis/Global Answers: The Role of the United Nations with Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller. While in Copenhagen, the Secretary-General will also officially open the UNOPS Headquarters based in this city.

The Secretary-General will then head on to Helsinki, Finland, on Monday evening for a two-day visit, where he is expected to meet with President Tarja Halonen of Finland, as well as Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, and Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Paavo Väyrynen. While in Helsinki, he will address the Finnish Parliament and have a bilateral luncheon meeting with the speaker.

The Secretary-General will meet with the former President and Nobel laureate, Martti Athisaari and pay a visit to the United Nations University - World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER).

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

UNCTAD HOLDS SYMPOSIUM ON ECONOMIC CRISIS AND DEVELOPMENT: Today and tomorrow, in Geneva, The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is holding a public symposium entitled "The global economic crisis and development - the way forward." Addressing the event, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang, said today that a visible economic recovery next year would remain a highly uncertain prospect, and the risks of a prolonged recession were still very high.

BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT AWARDED U.N. TELECOMMUNICATION AWARD: At a ceremony held in Geneva today, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)

presented the 2009 World Telecommunication and Information Society Award to three recipients, including President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva of Brazil. The theme for 2009 was Protecting Children in Cyberspace. The ITU recognized them for bringing the benefits of Internet connectivity to every corner of the planet and showing commitment to protecting the interests of users, especially children.

IMPROVING WEATHER REPORTS TO HELP FARMERS: More than 80 scientists from around the world gathered today in Toowoomba, Australia, to begin a workshop jointly organized by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on the theme of communication of weather and climate information to farmers. The three-day event will focus on improving the long-term sustainability of farming and agriculture worldwide through better practical weather and climate information. We have more information available upstairs.

  • ** The guest at the noon briefing today was John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, who briefed on the situation in Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

    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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