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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-05-28
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THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Thursday, May 28, 2009
SOMALIAL: BAN KI-MOON STRONGLY CONDEMNS ANTI-GOVERNMENT ATTACKS
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemns the continuing armed attacks against Somalias Transitional Federal Government. This campaign of violence is aimed at the forceful overthrow of a legitimate government which has reached out to its opponents in a spirit of reconciliation, through an 'open door' policy and negotiations. The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the growing numbers of civilians killed, wounded and displaced as a result of these attacks.
In the face of this ongoing threat to the peace process, Somalias government is appealing for international assistance, and the Secretary-General wishes to strongly and urgently echo that appeal. He calls on the international community to follow through quickly with the urgently needed financial and other forms of support recently pledged in Brussels to both the Government of Somalia and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The Secretary-General further urges the international community to provide direct bilateral assistance to the Government.
The Secretary-General believes there is a unique window of opportunity for peace in Somalia, but the situation is fragile and international assistance is needed now.
PAKISTAN: AGENCIES FOCUS ON DISEASE PREVENTION, SUMMER SHELTER AND SUPPORT FOR HOST COMMUNITIES
The United Nations and the humanitarian community in Pakistan are now
focusing on, disease prevention, provision of summer shelter and support to local host communities, in their latest efforts to bring much needed assistance to the nearly 3 million people displaced by fighting in the North West Frontier Province.
International humanitarian agencies and government officials report that the registration of all the internally displaced persons or IDPs is one of the most critical challenges affecting the quick delivery of aid to those in need.
There is also serious concern that overcrowding in IDP camps could lead to the spread of diseases because of poor hygienic conditions and unsafe water supplies, especially in unplanned or spontaneous camps.
Agencies also continue to work to protect tents and other shelters from the very high daytime temperatures at this time of the year.
Humanitarian officials continue to appeal for urgent international support for the displaced person. They say there has been a poor response so far to the $543 million humanitarian appeal launched last week.
The Spokeswoman, in response to a question, said that Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes launched the UN appeal for Pakistan to donor countries today in New York and appealed for a swift and generous response to the needs on the ground.
SRI LANKA: BAN KI-MOON FORCEFULLY RAISED ISSUE OF ACCOUNTABILITY ON RECENT VISIT
Asked for a reaction to a statement by Human Rights Watch that the Secretary-General Ban shares the blame for the Human Rights Council poor showing on Sri Lanka, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has been very clear in public, and even more forceful privately, on the issue of accountability.
She noted that Ban Ki-moon was the first world leader to travel to Sri Lanka to press for better humanitarian access, discuss issues of accountability, and seek mid-term solutions and long-term political reconciliation with the Sri Lankan leadership. "He was there on all those fronts," Okabe said.
In response to a related question, Okabe recalled that High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has been very vocal in her call for an investigation and is still pursuing that goal.
She later said the Secretary-General has repeatedly said whereever serious and credible allegations are made of grave and persistent violations of international humanitarian laws, these should be properly investigated.
The reporters were also informed that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, while noting that the Human Rights Council will not agree to set up such an inquiry at this point, says that more information will come out, more evidence will emerge about what did and did not happen. So an international inquiry could still happen further down the line. The Office also said that international human rights law is quite robust -- there are different ways and means to get to the truth and provide some measure of accountabilty. Sometimes it takes years, but this Session and this Resolution do not close any avenues.
SECRETARY-GENERAL REJECTS RECENT CLAIM OVER GEORGIA REPORT
The claim by the Georgian Permanent Representative that the Secretary-General amended his report on Georgia in response to Russian blackmail is categorically rejected. The statement itself is very unfortunate.
The principal concern of the Secretary-General in the drafting of his Report has been that all concerned parties should engage on the substantive issues in question, more specifically on a mechanism to guarantee safety and security in this troubled region. The adoption of the title was meant to avoid unnecessary politicization of the debate among members of the Security Council and reflected his view of what all members could live with.
The Secretary-General rejects any suggestion that any threats were made to him in this connection.
SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON BOSNIA, AFRICA
At UN Headquarters,
the Security Council held a meeting this morning on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Council members were briefed by Valentin Inzko, the new High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Before them was Inzkos
report to the Secretary-General his first since taking office.
This afternoon, the Security Council will hold a formal meeting on its recent mission to Africa. A Council delegation visited Addis Ababa for meetings with the African Union; Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Liberia in a week-long field mission which lasted from May 14 to May 21. Speakers will include the Ambassadors from the United Kingdom, the United States, France and Uganda, who led different steps of the Councils mission.
After that meeting, the Council intends to hold consultations on the interim report of the Group of Experts of the DRC, followed by other matters.
CYPRUS LEADERS HOLD VERY FRIENDLY TALKS UNDER UN AUSPICES
Talks between the Cyprus leaders continued today in Nicosia under UN auspices. Speaking after the leaders meeting, the Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer, noted that they had held a very friendly discussion, which lasted an hour and a half.
The leaders touched on economic matters and will continue discussing that subject when they meet again next Wednesday, Downer said.
In response to questions about why the talks on economic matters were lasting relatively long, Downer said that the subject was not contentious but that there was a lot of material to deal with. He reiterated that the momentum of the talks was satisfactory and that strict timetables would only make the negotiations more difficult. And he added that he remained cautiously optimistic about the process.
TOP U.N. OFFICIAL ON CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICT
CALLS FOR URGENT SUPPORT FOR BURUNDIS DEMOBILISED CHILDREN
On Burundi, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for
Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy is calling for urgent support for newly demobilized children in that country.
Now that the 340 children formerly associated with the FNL (Forces Nationales de Libération) have been released from the Gitega Demobilization Center, she says they must receive long term support to ensure their sustainable reintegration into their communities.
Coomaraswamy is also calling for the demobilization of another 44 children who still remain with the FNL dissidents two additional assembly sites.
NEW PROGRAM TO ASSIST FISHING/FARMING FAMILIES AFFECTED BY CYCLONE NARGIS IN MYANMAR
The Food and Agriculture Organization, (FAO) says, a three-year Italian-funded FAO programme to improve the long-term food security of 32,000 poor fishing and farming families in Myanmar has been signed.
The programme will assist Myanmar to develop sustainable small-scale fisheries and aquaculture livelihoods in coastal mangrove ecosystems and improve rice production. Many of the beneficiaries are victims of last years devastating cyclone Nargis that killed some 150,000 people.
PRISONERS IN EAST TIMORS BECORA PRISON BENEFIT FROM NEW INITIATIAVE AGAINST HIV/AIDS AND STDS
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reports that it is funding a new health initiative for prisoners at a Becora prison in Timor-Leste.
This project will provide quality services and accurate and updated information for the prisoners in the areas of HIV, AIDS, and Sexually Transmitted Infection. Its holistic approach to all prisoners and prison staff, will also ensure a way for prisoners to move forward when they leave the prison.
WORLD COURT RULES THAT FORMER CHADIAN PRESIDENT HABRE SHOULD REMAIN IN SENEGAL
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has issued an
order leaving former Chadian president Hissene Habre in the custody of Senegal, where hes under house arrest for alleged crimes against humanity and torture.
Belgium had, in February, lodged a request to bar Habre from leaving Senegal while his trial is pending.
It had also sought to have him extradited to face charges in Belgium, citing among other things procedural delays in Senegals handling of the case.
In its order, the ICJ found that there does not exist, in the circumstances of the present case, any urgency to justify Belgiums bid.
However, the Court also stressed that todays order leaves unaffected Belgiums right to pursue the case should new facts emerge.
Habre has been living in Senegal under house arrest for close to 20 years, the Court noted. It also said that Senegal has given assurances it would not allow Habre to leave the country pending a final ICJ ruling on the matter.
PREPARATIONS UNDERWAY TO HONOR PEACEKEEPERS ON 29TH MAY
Tomorrow, 29th May, is the
International Day of UN Peacekeepers, and the day is being marked by UN peacekeeping missions around the world.
This year, the theme is: Women In Peacekeeping: The Power to Empower.
As the theme suggests, the focus this year is on recognizing the crucial role played by women to create conditions for lasting peace in countries affected by conflict. It is important to note that more and more women are joining peacekeeping operations as civilians, police advisers and military personnel.
A series of events and activities are planned in all UN peacekeeping operations.|
Here at UN Headquarters, the events begin at 9.15 am, when the Secretary-General will join the Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy, for a wreath-laying ceremony in the South Gallery of the Headquarters Lobby. This event will honour the 132 peacekeepers who lost their lives last year while serving in peacekeeping operations.
These peacekeepers will then be honoured posthumously with the Dag Hammarskjöld Medals in the Trusteeship Council.
In total, more than 2500 peacekeepers have made the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of peace since the start of UN peacekeeping.
Also taking place here at UN Headquarters tomorrow, will be a photo exhibition and the screening of a
Peacekeeping Day film, which is available on YouTube and can also be accessed through the DPKO website.
And then at the tomorrows Noon Briefing, we will be having as our guests, both the head of Peacekeeping, Alain Le Roy, and Susana Malcorra, the Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support.
SECRETARY-GENERAL AND U.S. AMBASSADOR RICE DISCUSS ISSUES OF MUTUAL CONCERN: In response to requests for a read-out of the Secretary-General's meeting with U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice earlier today, she later reported that they discussed the issues of mutual concern. These include the follow-up on Secretary-General's visit to Sri Lanka, humanitarian problems in Pakistan, the Security Council deliberations on the draft resolution on Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the recent Security Council mission to Africa including the fight against sexual violence, and preparations for the 22 September climate change high level meeting at the United Nations.
HEADQUARTERS RENOVATiON TEAM TAKING SAFETY SERIOUSLY: In response to a question on staff safety during asbestos abatement work in the Secretariat building, Okabe said that the team led by Michael Adlerstein, the Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of the Capital Master Plan (CMP), is taking staff safety very seriously and has on many occasions assured the staff of its confidence in the company conducting the asbestos removal. Adlerstein is scheduled to brief the staff again on this and other CMP-related matters in a town hall meeting tomorrow, she said.
Okabe also said that Adlerstein will brief the press on the same issue sometime next week.
JAPANESE NATIONAL TV TO HIGHLIGHT REFUGEES ISSUES TO MILLIONS OF VIEWERS: The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that, this weekend, a drama about UNHCR's Tokyo office, will premier on Japanese TV. Japanese national TV broadcaster
NHK is expecting millions of viewers to tune in to the show called Plastic Sheeting in the Wind. In the process, they will learn about UNHCR and refugees in Japan as well as around the world. Japan is UNHCR's third-largest donor and it announced last year that it will become the first Asian country to accept refugees for resettlement under a pilot programme due to start in 2010.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO ADDRESS GRADUATION CEREMONY OF UN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL: This afternoon, the Secretary-General will attend the Graduation Ceremony for the Class of 2009 of the United Nations International School (UNIS). The 122 graduates in this years class represent 53 nationalities and speak 34 languages as their mother tongues.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
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