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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-05-27

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

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

BAN KI-MOON DEPLORES PAKISTAN BOMBING

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly

condemns the bombing today in Lahore, Pakistan, in which some 30 people were reported killed and 250 wounded. No cause can justify such indiscriminate terrorist violence.

The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the families of the victims and wishes those injured a speedy recovery. He expresses his solidarity with the Government and people of Pakistan.

PAKISTAN: DISPLACED CIVILIANS FACE HUMANITARIAN CATASTROPHE IF NO FUNDS DONATED TO APPEAL

The Deputy Representative of UNICEF in Pakistan, Luc Chauvin, has said that the number of people displaced by fighting in Pakistans North West Frontier Province, has now reached 3 million.

In an interview with UN Radio he warned that displaced civilians still face a humanitarian catastrophe unless the international community responds urgently to the recent appeal for funds launched by the UN and the humanitarian community.

As of today, only some $88 million or 16 percent has been pledged of the $543 million appeal for urgent assistance to the civilians displaced by the Pakistan Governments offensive against militants in the North West Frontier Province.

Meanwhile, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

reports that about 10 percent of the displaced are living in camps and the rest are staying with friends or in communal buildings, such as schools. UNHCR is continuing its assistance to people in camps as well as those living outside camps.

UNHCR has started to distribute bricks to each family for building individual kitchen stoves in the camps. The stoves will allow the displaced people to cook their own meals with rations provided by the World Food Programme.

SRI LANKA: OVERALL NEEDS IN CAMPS REMAIN ACUTE

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that since the Secretary-Generals visit to Sri Lanka, an interim measure has been agreed whereby aid agency vehicles including trucks can now travel in and out of all Menik Farms zones, only not in convoy and without agency flags.

OCHA also notes that it has been announced that the military will relocate out of the camps, turning over all camp management activities to civilian authorities.

Meanwhile, overall needs remain acute in the camps.

Health posts, doctors and medical personnel and water and sanitation facilities are the greatest needs at this time.

Most people arrived in the camps with nothing, so distributions of non-food items like plates, cups and other basic household goods are also priorities when the trucks are re-entering the camps.

The overall scale of the humanitarian operation remains huge.

For food alone, 900,000 meals are provided daily. The Common Humanitarian Action Plan for Sri Lanka in 2009 requested $155 million. It is still only 39% funded.

From 27 October to 26 May 289,915 people crossed into Government controlled areas from the former conflict zone. Of those 287,598 have been accommodated in temporary camps and 2,317 are in hospitals. Of the camp population, 1,537 elderly people have been released and accommodated by host families or in elderly peoples facilities. In addition, 9,000 combatants have been separated and are being held in different rehabilitation facilities.

The IDPs, many of whom arrived at the camps exhausted, tired and traumatized, are reliant on humanitarian assistance and support. The IDPs will continue to be dependent on food assistance as the earliest they get to their normal livelihoods will be through cropping season of April/May next year.

Responding to a question, the Spokeswoman explained that the UN terms as "funded" monies received in response specifically to its humanitarian appeal while "pledges" refer to monies promised but not disbursed.

Okabe, in response to another question on humanitarian access, reiterated comments by the Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes who yesterday described the need for aid workers on the ground to bring aid as quickly as possible to the many thousands of people who need immediate assistance.

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL URGES SRI LANKA TO ENSURE AGAINST DISCRIMINATION

In Geneva today, the Human Rights Council wrapped up its eleventh Special Session, which dealt with the situation of human rights in Sri Lanka. It

adopted a resolution with 29 votes in favor and 12 against, with 6 abstentions.

By that resolution, the Human Rights Council urged the Government of Sri Lanka to continue strengthening its activities to ensure that there is no discrimination against ethnic minorities.

It also welcomed the Sri Lankan authorities resolve to start a broader dialogue with all parties, in order to bring about lasting peace and development in Sri Lanka, based on consensus among and respect for the rights of all the ethnic and religious groups inhabiting it.

The Human Rights Council also urged the international community to cooperate with the Government of Sri Lanka in reconstruction efforts, including by increasing financial aid.

ISRAELI MEASURES RESTRICTS PALESTINIAN MOVEMENT

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has released a new

report on movement and access restrictions in the West Bank.

In that report, OCHA notes that a number of Israeli measures, such as expanding checkpoints and building alternative roads and tunnels, are further entrenching the mechanisms used to control and restrict Palestinian movement. Such measures exact a price from Palestinians in terms of land loss, disruption of traditional routes, and deepening fragmentation of West Bank territory, the report says.

OCHA has documented and mapped 634 obstacles blocking internal Palestinian movement and access throughout the West Bank. This is a slight increase from the number reported in its last report on this topic.

Israeli settlements remain the most important factor shaping the system of movement and access restrictions in the West Bank, OCHA says.

DARFUR MISSION DELIVERS MEDICAL SUPPLIES TO CIVILIANS CAUGHT IN LATEST FIGHTING

The security situation in Darfur is relatively calm today, according to the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). Yesterday, the Mission evacuated 19 seriously injured victims of the latest fighting in the Umm Barru area of North Darfur. The Mission also delivered medical supplies to civilians in the area.

UNAMID has sent out 69 military patrols in the past 24 hours while its police force conducted another 85 patrols to ensure the safety of civilians.

Meanwhile, some 40 police officers from Sierra Leone today joined the Missions ranks in El Fasher, with another 22 expected to arrive tomorrow. The Mission intends to deploy them across Darfur after a two-week induction programme.

BANGLADESH: U.N. PROVIDING CYCLONE-RELATED TECHNICAL SUPPORT

Concerning Cyclone Aila, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that according to government reports, the death toll in Bangladesh has risen to100 people. OCHA also says that 6,410 people were injured.

The UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh, with individual United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations have been providing technical support to assess the impact of the cyclone and the needs of the population in the 14 affected districts.

So far, the Governments of Bangladesh and India also affected by the cyclonehave not formally requested international assistance. In a

statement yesterday, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes, said that the United Nations stands ready to assist either country if required.

FOOD AGENCY SETS UP OFFICE IN CENTRAL SOMALIA

The World Food Programme (WFP) is setting up a field office in Central Somalia. With over one million people in need of food and assistance, WFP is

bridging the gap after a key non-governmental organization was forced to pull out last year due to insecurity. The local elders and authorities have signed security assurances to protect the WFP staff and its local partners.

In a joint statement issued by the Intergovernmental Agency on Development (IGAD) Facilitator for Somalia Peace and National Reconciliation, the African Union Special Representative for Somalia, and the UN Special Representative for Somalia, all three parties agreed to continue to work together in close partnership to deliver on their Somalia-related mandates and implement future decisions made by the UN Security Council.

Meanwhile, in response to a question posed yesterday about UN support for police personnel of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Somalia, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has provided training to civilian police officers in Somalia, under internationally approved guidelines with emphasis on community-based policing practices. Some donors are supporting payment of stipends to UNDP-trained police.

So far, 2,775 police personnel have undergone this internationally approved training by UNDP for the TFG. These are the only police personnel who are eligible for the payment of stipends which is paid according to strict human rights and financial accountability standards.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WRAPS UP OFFICIAL VISIT TO FINLAND

The Secretary-General left Helsinki, Finland, this morning, and is now on his way back to New York.

Today he met with former UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari, as well as Finlands Minister for Foreign Trade and Development and a group of Finnish non-governmental organizations.

Yesterday, the Secretary-General met with Finlands President, Tarja Halonen. During their

meeting, they discussed climate change, Sri Lanka, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, and the situation in Sudan and Chad, as well as Georgia, Kosovo, and Somalia.

SECRETARY-GENERAL ANNOUNCES NEW SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

The Secretary-General has informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint Ms. Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia as his new Special Representative and Head of United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA), which is to be succeeded by United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office (BINUCA). Ms. Zewde, who would replace François Fall, would be the second woman serving as a Special Representative of the Secretary-General under the current Secretary-General.

The Secretary-General is grateful for Mr. Falls tireless efforts to help stabilize the situation in the Central African Republic.

Ms. Zewde brings to this position years of experience in the African Union's initiatives in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. As a representative of her country to the African Union Peace and Security Council, she has been involved in deliberations on the situation in the Cental African Republic. She has deep understanding of the close partnership of the United Nations and the African Union in resolving conflicts as well as in peacebuilding efforts in Africa.

Ms. Zewde has over 20 years of diplomatic service as Ambassador. She is currently the Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. She has also served as Director-General for African Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, posts that she has held since 2006.

Ms. Zewde is a Natural Sciences graduate of the University of Montpellier, France. She is fluent in Amharic, French and English. Born in 1950, she has two sons.

NEW DEPUTY CHIEF IS APPOINTED FOR AFGHANISTAN MISSION

The Secretary-General has appointed Robert Watkins of Canada as his Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan. Mr. Watkins will also serve as the UN Resident Coordinator and the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan.

He replaces Bo Asplund of Sweden who will be completing his assignment this summer. The Secretary-General is grateful to Mr. Asplund for his dedicated service for the past two years in Afghanistan.

Mr. Watkins brings to this position broad experience in preparing and managing responses to complex humanitarian emergencies and post-conflict recovery programmes in the Middle East, the Caribbean and Europe.

Since 2006, he has served as United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and the UN Development Programme Resident Representative in Georgia.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES UP GEORGIA: The Security Council held consultations this morning on Georgia and other matters. The Secretary-Generals Special Representative, Johan Verbeke, briefed Council members on the Secretary-Generals

report pursuant to Security Council resolutions 1808 (2008), 1839 (2008) and 1866 (2009).

WORLD COURT. TO ISSUE BELGIUM/SENEGAL ORDER TOMORROW: Tomorrow in The Hague, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will issue an order in response to a filing by Belgium questioning Senegals compliance with its obligation to prosecute Hissène Habré. Habre, a former president of Chad, has been accused in a Senegalese court of massive human rights abuses committed by his regime during the 1990s. Belgium filed the complaint to the ICJ in February, seeking among other things to have Habre extradited to Belgium to face criminal charges should Senegal be found unable or unwilling to do so. For its part, Senegal has asked the Court to dismiss the Belgian filing, saying its judiciary is competent to carry out the prosecution.

LEBANON MISSION IN CONTACT WITH AUTHORITIES OVER STAFF ARRESTS: Asked for a reaction to the reported arrests of staff members of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for alleged dealings with Israel, Okabe said that UNIFIL earlier today acknowledged notification by the Lebanese authorities about the arrests of two locally recruited staff members on 26 May. UNIFIL and the Lebanese authorities are in contact in this regard, she added. Okabe also stressed that UNIFIL is assisting the Lebanese authorities in ensuring that the investigative process takes its own course in conformity with the letter and spirit of the Agreement between the UN and the Government of Lebanon on the Status of UNIFIL.

NORTH KOREA POSITION IS WELL KNOWN: Asked if the Secretary-General is considering appointing an envoy to deal with tensions on the Korean peninsula, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-Genera's position on the situation was spelled out loudly and clearly in official

statements and remarks to the press in the past few days.

  • ** The guest at todays noon briefing was Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She briefed on the 8th session of the Forum, which was due to wrap up on 29 May.

    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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