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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-05-26
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THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF CALLS FOR SRI LANKA INVESTIGATION
In Geneva today, the Human Rights Council started a
special session on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.
In a video
message to the gathering, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said there are strong reasons to believe that both sides have grossly disregarded the fundamental principle of the inviolability of civilians. She added that an independent and credible international investigation into recent events should be dispatched to ascertain the occurrence, nature and scale of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Councils special session is expected to continue tomorrow. Members plan to adopt a text.
[Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
visited Sri Lanka last weekend whose main purpose was to help the Sri Lankan Government begin a process of national recovery, renewal and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans.
He was accompanied by UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes and Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe.
On Saturday, the Secretary-General left on a helicopter to Manik Farm in Vavuniya district where there are over 200,000 IDPs. At the camp, he met with local authorities, humanitarian workers and the IDPs. After visiting a hospital within the camp and talking with some of the patients, he told reports that the UN stands ready to provide all necessary humanitarian assistance to the IDPs as well as help the Sri Lankan Government resettle and reintegrate the IDPs back into society. He urged the Government to provide immediate and unimpeded access to all humanitarian workers.
He then flew over a former conflict zone in Anuradhapura before leaving for Kandy to meet with President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka. With the President, he discussed ways to address Sri Lankas immediate humanitarian needs as well as means to promote national reconciliation. He welcomed the Governments recently announced plan to return 80 percent of the IDPs back to their homes by the end of this year.
Following his meeting with the President, he held a
press conference in Kandy. He told reporters that although the Government is doing its utmost to help the IDPs, much more still needs to be done. He strongly urged the government to expedite the screening and registration of IDPs, as well as make it easier for families to reunite and allow people more freedom of movement in and out of the camps. ]
UNITED NATIONS DEPLORES D.P.R.K.S NUCLEAR UNDERGROUND TEST
The Secretary-General today has welcomed the decisive measures being taken by the Security Council, regarding the conduct of an underground nuclear test by the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea on Monday. He strongly
deplores this test and joins world leaders in condemning it as a clear and grave violation of the relevant Security Council resolutions.
The Secretary-General is deeply concerned that this act will negatively affect regional peace and stability, as well as the global nuclear non-proliferation regime.
The Secretary-General has reiterated his conviction that differences should be resolved in a peaceful manner through dialogue. He has urged the DPRK to refrain from taking any further actions that would increase tensions in the region. The Secretary-General has also insisted that the DPRK should comply with its obligations in full and restart dialogue with the parties concerned without delay, including the early resumption of the Six-Party Talks.
Sunday afternoon, following
Security Council consultations on the nuclear test by the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, (DPRK), members are now in the process of working on a Security Council resolution on this matter.
The President of the Council for this month, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia, read a press statement on behalf of the Council, with members voicing their strong opposition to and condemnation of the nuclear test. According to the Council, the test constituted a clear violation of resolution 1718.
The members of the Security Council have demanded that the DPRK comply fully with the Councils obligations under resolutions 1695 and 1718 and other related Security Council resolutions and statements. The Council called on all member states to uphold their obligations under these resolutions and statements.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS ON BUSINESS LEADERS TO THINK GREEN
On Sunday, following his visit to Sri Lanka, the Secretary-General arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark. There he
addressed the opening of the World Business Summit on Climate Change.
The Secretary-General told the gathered business leaders that excessive reliance on a fossil fuel-based economy is destroying our planets resources. It is also choking global economic potential.
He added that doing the right thing for our climate is also smart for global competitiveness and long-term prosperity. Any multinational business that doesn't have a strategy in place to deal with climate change will end up on the losing side of history, the Secretary-General noted.
While in Copenhagen, the Secretary-General held a bilateral with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. The two held further discussions on climate change.
The following day, Monday, the Secretary-General took a boat to a wind farm close to Copenhagen. Seeing firsthand how the wind turbines harnessed energy from nature, he called the facility an example for the world.
The Secretary-General is now in Helsinki, Finland, for an official visit. This morning he met with Finlands President and Prime Minister. We expect him back in New York tomorrow afternoon.
DISPLACEMENT CONTINUES IN NORTHWESTERN PAKISTAN
The UN Refugee Agency, (UNHCR),
says thousands of Pakistanis continue to flee areas of conflict in the North West Frontier Province, where government forces have been fighting militants.
The total number of displaced persons registered since early this month, has now reached over 2.38 million. UNHCR says that on average, an estimated 126,000 people-a-day are being registered in the four districts of Mardan, Charsadda, Swabi and Nowshera alone. Many more people are still reported to be stranded in the conflict zones.
UNHCR has commended the many acts of generosity from ordinary Pakistanis towards their fellow citizens. Some benefactors continue to contribute food packages of wheat flour, sugar, spices, tea, as well as cash and clothes.
To assist the displaced persons quickly, UNHCR is continuing to buy more supplies locally, from within Pakistan. The agency is also shipping relief items from stockpiles in warehouses around the world.
says that, with more than half of the displaced being children, the agency will need an additional $41.4 million to provide urgent assistance to the displaced. UNICEF Pakistan has now almost exhausted its contingency stocks of supplies. Funding and humanitarian efforts have been strained by the very rapid increase in the number of people fleeing the fighting.
UNICEF warns that more displacement of populations is expected in the days ahead as military operations expand to new areas.
UNICEF is also highlighting the fact that difficulties of access combined with shortages of essential humanitarian supplies and funding are hindering efforts to provide children and women who are internally displaced with life-saving support.
Asked about a press report about an appeal for a lull in fighting in order to provide UN assistance to vulnerable populations, the Spokeswoman noted that the problem of access all humanitarian agencies have at this time is caused by the general insecurity. UN agencies have had difficulties accessing some parts of Pakistan since long before the recent events. In the course of this kind of situation and humanitarian need, it is vital that all options are explored to ensure humanitarian access to those in need.
Okabe further explained that the UN official mentioned in the press report was referring to one of those options to get information on the situation. The United Nations will continue to work on the ground to expand humanitarian programming to all those in need, including people in the affected areas. In the current circumstances, Okabe said, the UN and partners are focusing on providing assistance to those who have left the affected areas.
SECURITY COUNCIL AUTHORIZES A.U. MISSION TO SOMALIA TO MAINTAIN MANDATE UNTIL 2010
The Security Council adopted a
resolution this morning on Somalia. By that text, the Council authorized the African Union to maintain its mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, until 31 January 2010.
The Council also condemned the recent resurgence in fighting in Somalia and called on all Somali parties to support the Djibouti Agreement.
The Council then met to hear briefings by the Chairmen of its subsidiary bodies, including: the
Counter-Terrorism Committee; the so-called
1267 Committee, which deals with Al-Qaida and the Taliban; and the
1540 Committee, which focuses on weapons of mass destruction.
SOMALIA: MORE THAN 67,000 DISPLACED AFTER FIGHTING IN CAPITAL
The UN Refugee Agency, (UNHCR),
says that the latest escalation in fighting in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, has now displaced more than 67,000 persons.
Pro-government forces recently launched an offensive in the capital to drive out Islamist militants opposed to the Transitional Federal Government.
Many of the displaced persons have traveled to overcrowded makeshift camps, located at Afgooye, about 30 kilometres south-west of the capital. Those unable to make the journey have sought refuge closer to the city, in areas not affected by the fighting. And the number of those Somalis fleeing into neighbouring countries also continues to rise.
The worsening security situation has also reduced the delivery of relief supplies to the affected population. Local agencies that have been assisting the internally displaced persons continue to face growing security problems.
SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES GRAVE CONCERN OVER FIGHTING IN NORTH DARFUR
We issued a
statement yesterday, in which the Secretary-General said he was gravely concerned by the recent fighting between Government forces and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), in the area of Umm Baru in North Darfur.
Noting that the clash was reportedly initiated by the JEM, the Secretary-General condemned such military action.
He also reminded both the parties of the commitment they made in Doha this January, to settle the conflict between them through peaceful negotiation. He called on the parties to suspend military action and apply themselves fully to achieving a negotiated, inclusive and lasting resolution to the conflict.
And the Joint UN/AU Special Representative for Darfur Rodolphe Adada has also
urged all parties to the Darfur conflict to seek a peaceful resolution to their differences. Adada voiced particular concern at the humanitarian impact of the fighting on civilians.
Meanwhile, the Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) says that it gave temporary shelter to some 350 civilians and 100 unarmed Sudanese soldiers and others who fled the violence and took refuge near its local military base.
DR CONGO: U.N. MISSION RESPONDS TO REPORTS OF VIOLENCE, PROVIDES JUDICIAL ASSISTANCE
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Alan Doss was among the keynote speakers yesterday at a major Congolese civil society gathering in Kinshasa. In his address, Doss called for the swift implementation of national reforms to fight poverty and corruption among other challenges facing the country. Doss offered UN support to the gathering, urging participants to come up with a workable strategy for growth and poverty reduction.
Elsewhere in the DRC, UN peacekeepers were responding this past weekend to various reports of violence by illegal armed groups. On Saturday, the peacekeepers deployed to a village near the northeastern town of Dungu where an attack by the Lords Resistance Army left 1 person dead. 20 others were injured while the rebels burnt down some 20 huts before fleeing.
And on Friday in the Bukavu area, a peacekeeping patrol exchanged fire with a group of Rwandan rebels after the rebels attacked a bus at a roadblock. The Mission in the DRC (MONUC) says that 10 bus passengers were killed by the rebels while 15 others were injured.
The Mission in the DR Congo (MONUC)
says it is also providing logistical assistance to Congolese judicial authorities in the trial of Mai Mai militiamen facing charges of mass rapes and torture. Their trial opened two days ago in a regional court in Province Orientale. The Mission says it provided helicopters to help get judicial personnel to the remote area, some 290 miles from the provincial hub of Kisangani. UN human rights experts will also be monitoring the proceedings. Thirty-four Mai Mai fighters are on trial for a spree of sexual violence, including the alleged rape of more than 135 women and children in July 2007.
NEPAL: U.N. WELCOMES STEPS TO INVESTIGATE IN CHURCH BOMBING
The Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Nepal has
welcomed steps taken by authorities to investigate Saturdays bombing of a church in the Kathmandu Valley. Two people were killed and eight others seriously injured in the attack.
The Resident Coordinators Office has strongly condemned the bombing, noting that the church was known to be filled with people attending Mass at that time.
The Office also welcomed public statements from various quarters, including the Government, civil society and the media, denouncing the attack and urging full respect for the right of all persons to freedom of worship.
IRAQ: U.N. EXPANDS FOOD ASSISTANCE TO REACH MOST VULNERABLE GROUPS
In Iraq, the World Food Programme (WFP) is
expanding its food assistance programme to reach the most vulnerable people in the country. It will also start to provide free school lunches to children.
WFP is already supplying some 750,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) with emergency food rations as well as 362,000 displaced Iraqis in Syria. It will now provide food assistance to a further 577,000 people in Iraq, including pregnant and nursing women, malnourished children, orphans, disabled people, female-headed households and small-scale farmers.
WFPs expanded operation in Iraq will also include the provision of free school meals to some 170,000 primary schoolchildren in eight extremely food-insecure districts.
CYCLONE AILA: U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF SADDENED BY LOSS OF LIFE IN INDIA AND BANGLADESH
John Holmes, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, issued a statement on
The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes was saddened to learn of the loss of life and damage to property in Bangladesh and India caused by Cyclone Aila. He extends his deepest condolences to the affected, especially to the families of those who have been killed or who are missing.
The United Nations stands ready to assist as required.
U.N.D.P. ADMINISTRATOR SAYS AGENCY CAN PROVIDE VOICE TO THE WORLDS MOST VULNERABLE
Earlier this morning, UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark
delivered her first speech to UNDPs executive board since assuming her leadership role in the organization.
She told members of the Board that she came from a background of working on economic and social justice issues that have been important to her throughout her time in public life.
Globally, the resources, the technology, and the knowledge exist now to improve the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable, she said. Our challenge, Miss Clark added, is to muster up the political will and the resources, and to support the strategies and actions required, to make the much needed improvements a reality.
The Administrator underscored that the current recession, the spike in food and energy prices added to the huge climate change challenge are all global problems that require global solutions. She also stressed that the voice of the worlds most vulnerable and poorest should also be heard when making decisions to tackle the issues.
Miss Clark told the member of the Board in her statement, the United Nations family should be the vehicle which drives that action and provides that voice. UNDP can be a leading contributor to making that happen.
Finally, she thanked donors for their commitment to UNDP and added that, in these difficult times UNDP must spare no effort to make the best use of the resources available to it. She promised that accountability and transparency must be our guiding principles.
CONTROLLER GIVES UPDATES ON PAYMENTS TO UN BUDGET
Following the press conference by Under-Secretary-General for Management Angela Kane and Controller Jun Yamazaki on Thursday, 21 May, the Controller
provided the Fifth Committee with an update, on 22 May, concerning the payments received subsequent to the cut-off date of 7 May.
These include regular budget payments of $12 million from Brazil and $136 million from the United States, and peacekeeping payments of $192 million from Japan. In addition, payments have been initiated by Sweden for the capital master plan and South Africa for peacekeeping operations.
Taking into account these payments as well as other payments received after the cut-off date, the updated lists of Member States fully paid would include: Guatemala, Indonesia, Kuwait, Nigeria, and Thailand for the regular budget; Australia and South Africa for peacekeeping operations; Indonesia, Norway, and Sweden for the capital master plan; Belarus, Guatemala, Montenegro, Portugal, Nigeria, and the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic for the international tribunals. Australia, South Africa and Sweden paid in full their assessed contributions after the cut-off date of 7 May 2009.
BAN KI-MOON IS DEEPLY SADDENED BY DEATH OF FORMER SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT: Over the weekend, the Secretary-General issued a
statement on the death of the former President of the Republic of Korea, Roh Moo-hyun. The Deputy Secretary-General this morning signed a condolence book at the mission of the Republic of Korea.
POOR PEOPLE COULD BE EVICTED AS LAND ACQUISITIONS INCREASE: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
say that the increase of foreign land acquisitions in Africa particularly-- is raising the risk that poor people will be evicted or lose access to land. The two agencies are calling for securing land rights for rural communities and involving local people in foreign land acquisition.
YELLOW FEVER VACCINE STOCKPILE IS UNDER THREAT: The World Health Organizations (WHO) coordinator for the Epidemic Readiness and Intervention said that the yellow fever initiative is feeling the effects of the global financial crisis. The global emergency
stockpile of yellow fever vaccines for the worlds most vulnerable populations in Africa is under threat. WHO is warning that the current stockpile will run out in 2010 and there is no funding to cover vaccination campaigns once the stockpile is depleted.
ON AFRICA DAY, SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR PROTECTION OF THE CONTINENTS POOREST: In a
message for Africa Day -- which was observed yesterdaythe Secretary-General said that in the context of the global economic crisis, it was essential to protect the continents poorest and most vulnerable people. He added that the international community must not step back from its commitments. Noting a troubling re-emergence of unconstitutional changes of government in Africa, the Secretary-General stressed the need to support democratization and strengthen the continents capacity to maintain peace and security. In that regard, he said that in the past year had seen a welcome expansion and consolidation of the strategic partnership between the United Nations and the African Union.
PROGRAMME LAUNCHED TO FIGHT CANCER IN DEVELOPING WORLD: The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are
launching a Joint Programme on Cancer Control, aimed at strengthening and accelerating efforts to fight cancer in the developing world.
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said that in low and middle income countries, cancer overwhelmingly affects the pooradding that this had huge implications for human suffering, health systems, health budgets and the drive to reduce poverty. The Joint Programme will provide the framework for WHO and IAEA to dovetail their work, building on their areas of expertise to create a more coordinated and robust approach to combating cancer in low- and middle-income countries.
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