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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-05-20
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THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
BAN KI-MOON EXPRESSES SUPPORT FOR U.N. FACT-FINDING MISSION ON GAZA
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon left Geneva this morning and is now on his way back to New York. We expect him back at Headquarters later this afternoon. While in Geneva today, the Secretary-General met with representatives of UNAIDS and UN Plus, the group which brings together UN staff who are living with HIV.
The Secretary-General also met with Justice Richard Goldstone, who was appointed last month by the Human Rights Council to lead an independent fact-finding mission to investigate international human rights and humanitarian law violations related to the recent conflict in Gaza. Also present in that meeting were members of Justice Goldstones team and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.
The Secretary-General was briefed about the mission's work plan and reiterated his support to the work of the mission. He said he hoped the mission's work would proceed smoothly with cooperation by the concerned parties and send a positive message to the international community about accountability.
JUSTICE GOLDSTONE DISAPPOINTED BY NO POSITIVE RESPONSE FROM THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT
Justice Goldstone also spoke to the press today in Geneva. He said the Gaza fact-finding mission was still in the planning stage. He also said he was disappointed that he had not received any positive response from the Israeli Government. His wish, he said, was to visit southern Israel, go into Gaza through the front door, and also go to the West Bank, which is to be included in his mission.
Goldstone noted that he would be holding a number of public hearings hopefully in the region, but if that was not possible, then in Geneva. He also said field work had to be completed by the end of June and that the 4th of August is the date on which the teams report will be handed over.
U.N. OFFICIAL IN MYANMAR ATTENDS TRIAL OF AUNG SAN SUU KYI
At the invitation of the Myanmar Government, the UN Resident Coordinator in Myanmar Bishow Parajuli, along with the Diplomatic Corps in Yangon, attended Wednesdays session of the trial of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
He attended the session on behalf of the UN System. Following the session, three members of the Diplomatic Corps were invited by the Myanmar Government to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi: Singapore, as dean of the diplomatic corps; Thailand, as ASEAN chair; and Russia, as president of the Security Council.
The UN Resident Coordinator was subsequently briefed by the three Ambassadors on the meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
PAKISTAN: HUMANITARIAN APPEAL TO ASSIST DISPLACED CIVILIANS TO BE LAUNCHED FRIDAY
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)
says thousands of people displaced by fighting in Pakistans North West Frontier Province continue to arrive in camps and registration centres in the province. On average, about 100,000 people are being registered daily in 89 registration centres established across the province.
UNHCR reports that 15 new camps established this month, to take care of an influx of displaced civilians, are already full. So there is an urgent need to identify new sites for camps.
The agency is planning to set up more registration centres to ensure speedy access to assistance for thousands of newly expected displaced persons.
UNHCR is already assisting the authorities to carry out a fast track registration process of all the displaced persons.
The total number of newly displaced people fleeing Swat, Lower Dir and Buner registered this month is almost 1.5 million (1,454,377). Of these, some 131,000 people are staying in camps, with more than 1.3 million (1,323,427) staying in private accommodation, with host families or friends. Others are being accommodated in schools. They join another half a million people (553,916) registered in North West Frontier Province who had fled other parts of the north-west, including the tribal areas, over several months since August 2008.
In the meantime, a humanitarian appeal is scheduled to be launched on Friday, in Islamabad, by the United Nations and its partners in Pakistan.
SRI LANKA: RESTRICTIONS ARE HINDERING ACCESS AND ABILITY TO DELIVER AID TO NEEDY CIVILIANS
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has
expressed concern over conditions in the camps set up for persons displaced by the recent fighting in Sri Lanka. It is now estimated that up to 80,000 people have left the fighting zone in the last three days alone. This brings the total number of people who have fled the fighting in the last several months to 280,000.
UNHCR is highlighting problems of overcrowding and limited services in the camps, especially in terms of hygiene, health and shelter. The agency continues to support the government to address these problems by building 10,000 additional shelters.
But UNHCR is expressing concern that restrictions imposed by the authorities are hindering the agencys access and ability to deliver humanitarian assistance to needy civilians, especially in the district Vavuniya.
Asked if the Secretary-General would go to the conflict zone during his upcoming visit to Sri Lanka, the Deputy Spokesperson said that he did expect to do so.
Asked about reports of doctors who had worked in the conflict zone being detained, the Deputy Spokesperson said she had heard reports that three of those doctors were in police custody. But the UN could not independently verify those reports, she added.
SECURITY COUNCIL DELEGATION CONCLUDES AFRICA TRIP WITH VISIT TO LIBERIA
Security Council delegation visiting Africa has been holding consultations today in the Liberia capital, Monrovia, with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and key members of her government. The discussions focused on peace, security, economic recovery and development. The subject of the drawdown of the UN Mission in Liberia,
UNMIL was also on the agenda.
Earlier today, the Council members visited the Liberia National Police Academy, where the UN has been assisting the government to recruit, train and deploy new professional police officers. Before that, the team attended a community-empowerment programme, where they observed a graduation ceremony for female ex-combatants who have completed training in dressmaking and related skills.
The delegation also held discussions with some key business leaders in Liberia, including representatives of the world steel giant company, Arcelor Mittal and Buchanan Renewable Energy - two companies that are important sources of revenue and jobs in Liberia.
On arrival in Liberia on Tuesday, the Council members held consultations with top UN officials and key diplomats who make up the International Contact Group on Liberia. Also at this meeting were the Ambassadors of China and Libya as well as the Representatives of the World Bank and the IMF in Liberia.
The Security Council team leaves Liberia later today to return to UN Headquarters.
BAN KI-MOON NOTES CONTRIBUTION OF UNS GEORGIA MISSION TO STABILITY AND SECURITY OF CIVILIANS
Out on the racks today is the Secretary-Generals
report pursuant to Security Council resolutions 1808 (2008), 1839 (2008) and 1866 (2009). It provides an update on the activities of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia and contains recommendations on future activities of the Mission.
The report notes that the Mission has continued its activities on both sides of the ceasefire line, contributing to the general stability and security of the local population, in particular in the Gali district. But given the continued erosion of the security regime, an agreement on a revised security regime is essential for a long-term stabilization and a viable UN role in the region.
Included in this recommended new regime would be a strict adherence to the ceasefire on land, at sea and in the air, and to the principle of the non-use of force.
ENVOY IN DARFUR CALLS FOR END TO CHAD-SUDAN BORDER FIGHTING
The African Union-United Nations Joint Special Representative (JSR) in Darfur, Rodolphe Adada, called today for an end to recent fighting near the Chadian-Sudanese border.
He urged the Governments of Chad and Sudan to refrain from any act that may lead to a further escalation of tensions, which could exacerbate the suffering of Darfurs civilians, particularly the many internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees in the region.
The poor state of relations between Chad and Sudan constitutes one of the biggest threats to efforts to secure lasting peace for the people of Darfur, he said.
DR CONGO: CIVILIANS ARE INCREASINGLY BEEN VICTIMS OF LOOTINGS, EXTORTIONS, KILLINGS AND RAPE
Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says it is concerned over the protection of civilians in South Kivu. Since April, civilian populations have increasingly been victims of lootings, extortions, killings and rape. According to
OCHA, this harassment by armed men has followed the announcement of military operations by the Forces Armées Congolaises (FARDC) against the Forces Démocratiques pour la Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR) in South Kivu.
OCHA particularly stresses a surge in sexual violence in South Kivu, since the beginning of this year. It says that 463 rape cases have already been registered during the first quarter of 2009--which represents more than half of the total cases registered last year. It adds that most of the sexual violence is committed by soldiers and members of the various armed groups active in the area.
OCHA says it is strengthening advocacy for the protection of civilians in South Kivu. OCHA officials have met the Vice-Governor and the Chief of Staff of the Governor of the province to convey the concerns of the humanitarian community regarding the protection of civilians and humanitarian access. During that meeting, they agreed to reconstitute a coordination mechanism between humanitarian organizations and the South Kivu authorities.
NUMBER OF DISPLACED PERSONS RISES IN SOMALI CAPITAL
On Somalia, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is deeply
concerned about the rise in the number of displaced people in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, despite a recent lull in fighting. It says the number of displaced has rapidly risen to 45,000.
The Agency adds that many of them are fleeing to the Afgooye corridor, southwest of Mogadishu. These sprawling make-shift camps which have sprung up over the past two years are already hosting an estimated 400,000 people.
According to UNHCR, the deteriorating security situation has sharply decreased humanitarian access. However, UNHCR is leading other agencies to respond to the most urgent needs-- shelter and other basic supplies.
UNHCR is reporting that the number of Somali refugees fleeing to the neighboring countries of Kenya and Yemen is rising daily. The north-eastern Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya is hosting a record 272,000 refugees, the overwhelming majority of who are Somalis. This is three times the number for which Dadaab was originally designed.
The Agency also reports that they are appealing to Kenyan authorities for additional land allocation to de-congest the camp. They are also appealing to donors for additional funding in order to assist the growing number of the refugees.
PROGRESS REPORTED IN CLIMATE CHANGE NEGOTIATIONS AS KEY DOCUMENT IS COMPLETED
With only 200 days before Copenhagen, time gets tighter but the world is not standing still on climate change. Thats according to the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Yvo de Boer.
De Boer pointed today to the encouraging developments in the area of climate change negotiations over the past 100 days as the central
text to be negotiated ahead of the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit, in December, was posted on the UNFCCC website.
The UNFCCC Executive Secretary said that this document marked an important point on the road to Copenhagenadding that the text can serve as a basis for governments to start drafting an agreed outcome.
The 53-page text covers the issues of a shared vision for long-term cooperative action, along with enhanced action on adaptation, mitigation and finance, technology and capacity-building. There is more on this upstairs.
BAN KI-MOON ENCOURAGED BY OBAMA-NETANYAHU MEETING AND STRESSES NEED FOR TWO-STATE SOLUTION
In response to a question asked about the Secretary-Generals position on the recent meeting between President Barack Obama of the United States and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and the idea of a two-State solution, the Spokeswoman said the Secretary-General actually answered this question himself at his
press conference in Geneva yesterday.
He said he was encouraged by the Obama-Netanyahu meeting and noted that President Obama will hold a meeting with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority as well. The Secretary-General said he hoped that this series of meetings will serve as a good foundation for continuing negotiations.
He highlighted the international communitys wish for a two-State solution and reiterated that there should be two countries living side by side in peace and security.
UN FORCE IN LEBANON LOOKS INTO REPORTS OF LEBANESE CITIZENS CROSSING BLUE LINE INTO ISRAEL
In response to a question yesterday, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) says it has been informed by the Lebanese authorities that a number of Lebanese citizens crossed the Blue Line into Israel. UNIFIL is in the process of ascertaining all the facts concerning this issue. Any illegal crossing would constitute a violation of the Blue Line and a violation of Security Council resolution 1701, UNIFIL adds.
The Spokespersons Office was also asked about reports of arrests of Israeli spies in Lebanon. UNIFIL says that the Lebanese authorities are in contact with them regarding this matter. Specifically, the Lebanese Army has sent UNIFIL a letter containing relevant information.
UNIFIL notes that the Lebanese authorities are carrying out further investigations and that some cases have already been referred to the military court. UNIFIL says it awaits completion of the judicial process.
BAN KI-MOON LAUNCHES FUND FOR MEMORIAL TO HONOR VICTIMS OF SLAVERY
Under Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Kiyo Akasaka delivered a
message today on behalf of the Secretary-General, to announce a trust fund for the Permanent Memorial at the United Nations to honour the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.
Referring to the major part in world history played by the 400-year trade, the Secretary-General emphasized the importance of continued study of its causes, as well as the UNs commitment to mobilize educational institutions and civil society to discuss the threat of intolerance.
He went on to congratulate the Caribbean Community and the African Union for their leading roles in this effort, and expressed his delight that renowned musician, impresario and activist had agreed to serve as a Goodwill Ambassador for the memorial. The full message is available upstairs.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SADDENED BY DEATH OF WOMENS RIGHTS CHAMPION
The Secretary-General was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ms. Helvi Sipilä on 15 May 2009 at the age of 94. A lifelong champion of the rights of women, she served as Secretary-General of the first World Conference on Women in 1975 in Mexico City. Ms. Sipilä was the first woman to hold the rank of Assistant Secretary-General at the United Nations and she served the United Nations diligently in different capacities for many years, including as the Chairperson of the Commission on the Status of Women.
A Finnish national, Ms. Sipilä served her country with distinction, including as a barrister in an age when few women had careers in this domain. Ms. Sipilä remained active after retiring from the United Nations and was the first woman to run for president in Finland in 1982. Throughout her life she held a number of key positions in civil society, both nationally and globally. Ms. Sipilä powerfully demonstrated the effectiveness of womens leadership. She has left a legacy which serves as a reminder that no effort should be spared to ensure the equal participation of women in decision-making in all areas of life.
REFUGEE AGENCY SEEKS MEETING TO DISCUSS MIGRATION ACROSS MEDITERRANEAN
The High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres has
asked the European Commission to consider convening a meeting between Italy, Malta, Libya, UNHCR and other relevant partners to work on a joint strategy for a more satisfactory response to irregular migration across the Mediterranean. This follows Italys recent push-backs of irregular migrants to Libya.
While recognizing the pressure that irregular migration places on Italy and other European Union Member States, Guterres said --in a letter to the European Commission that fundamental principles were at stake. He stresses the right to seek asylum from persecution and added that the customary international law principle of non-refoulement precludes return to situations where a persons life or freedom would be in jeopardy.
UNHCR says it is increasing its presence in Libya to better serve the needs of those seeking international protection.
BAN KI-MOON MEETS WITH AFRICAN LEADERS REGULARLY: Asked if the Secretary-General would attend a forthcoming African Union summit in Libya, the Deputy Spokesperson said she had nothing to announce. She did reiterate, however, that the Secretary-General remained very engaged in Africa and regularly met African leaders whenever and wherever he could.
UN TELECOMMUNICATION BODY ESTABLISHES GUIDELINES TO PROTECT CHILDREN ON THE WEB: The International Telecommunication Union has come up with a new
draft policy on child online protection. The set of four guidelines are aimed at establishing a safe and secure cyber-world for future generations by building awareness for policy makers, industry, educators, parents and children, as well as gathering further high-level international support.
UNCTAD WARNS OF CONTINUING DECLINE IN FOREGN DIRECT INVESTMENT IN 2009 FOR TRANSITION ECONOMIES: Developing and transition economies will be increasingly affected in 2009 by the continuing decline of international investment, according to a study by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The study, which is available online, indicates that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows will slowly recover, beginning in late 2010 or 2011, though this will depend on numerous factors, including the efficiency of public policy in addressing the causes of the economic crisis.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
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