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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-05-29

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

Friday, May 29, 2009

BAN KI-MOON SPOTLIGHTS NEED FOR MORE WOMEN IN U.N. PEACEKEEPING

Today is

International Day of UN Peacekeepers.

This is a day set aside to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in UN peacekeeping. It also honours the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.

The theme this year is, Women In Peacekeeping: The Power to Empower, and the Secretary-General in his

remarks this morning, said that peacekeepers who died in the line of duty did not die in vain but left an important legacy.

He noted specifically that the 10 women who were among the 132 peacekeepers who died last year remind us that female personnel are playing an increasingly important role in peacekeeping.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed the imperative to draw on the unique and powerful contribution women can make. He added, Often they can better communicate with local women, generating a greater sense of security while serving as an example of womens empowerment.

The Secretary-General further noted that there are still far too few women peacekeepers and he called on Member States to contribute more female personnel to the United Nations.

IRAN: BAN KI-MOON CONDEMNS BOMB ATTACK IN MOSQUE

The Secretary-General

condemns yesterdays bomb attack in a mosque in the Iranian city of Zahedan which reportedly killed at least 20 people and wounded many others.

He extends his heartfelt condolences to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the families of the victims of this despicable act.

GAZA FACT-FINDING MISSION TO TRAVEL TO REGION OVER WEEKEND

The fact-finding mission established by the Human Rights Council last month, following its special session on the Gaza conflict, will

travel to the region over the weekend.

The mission will be in Gaza as of the 1st of June and will remain there for about one week. The mission, which is headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, will enter Gaza from Egypt via the Rafah crossing point. Other field visits are being planned.

The mission plans to meet with all concerned parties, including non-governmental organizations, civil society groups, UN agencies, victims and witnesses of alleged violations, and other persons who may provide information with regard to the facts under investigation.

DISARMAMENT CONFERENCE BREAKS 12-YEAR STALEMATE

After 12 years of stalemate, the Conference on Disarmament this morning in Geneva

adopted by consensus document, which contains the draft programme of work for the Conference of 2009.

Todays decision which reinforces multilateralism, saved the worlds sole multilateral for disarmament negotiations.By decision CD/1863, on the establishment of a programme of work for the 2009 session, the Conference on Disarmament will establish several Working Groups and appoint Special Coordinators.

The next plenary meeting, which will be the first of this years session under the presidency of Argentina, will take place on Thursday, 4 June.

PAKISTAN: NEARLY 3 MILLION PEOPLE DISPLACED

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, (OCHA), says that we are currently witnessing one of the largest and fastest displacements of civilians the world has seen in the last 15 years.

Fighting between Pakistan government forces and insurgents in the North West Frontier Province has left nearly 3 million people displaced, and is considered the largest such mass movement in

Pakistan since the creation of the state.

According to OCHA people remaining in the area of conflict face serious risks from the ongoing fighting.

OCHA is also stressing the urgent need for extra resources to support the needy displaced civilians.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the displaced persons continue to face major health risks. These risks include, potential outbreaks of communicable disease, due to inadequate shelter, physical and mental stress, as well as inadequate water, sanitation and hygienic conditions. WHO is warning that morbidity and mortality rates could increase unless proper and urgent humanitarian assistance is provided.

The UN Refugee agency, UNHCR, has, in partnership with UN-Habitat,

stepped up assistance to the displaced persons who are living local host families. Many local families are now seeing their household sizes double or triple overnight as they struggle to provide refuge to the displaced. A first batch of 5,000 tents is already being distributed to the most vulnerable families in Mardan and Swabi districts. And UN-Habitat is providing hygiene kits to the host families.

SRI LANKA: U.N. AGENCIES FOCUS ON IMPROVING CONDITIONS IN IDPs CAMPS

In Sri Lanka, the emergency response over the last days, weeks and months has involved 15 ministries, more than 30 national and international Non-Government Organization partners and 12 United Nations agencies.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says, since the arrival of the last Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), efforts have been undertaken to improve basic conditions in the camp. Priorities include decongestion of the overcrowded camps, constructing more latrines and improving the water supply so that international standards are met.

The need for speedy family reunification, improved freedom of movement and civil administration of the camps are also priority areas of concern.

The U.N.s overriding emphasis will be to support Government efforts to provide basic assistance needs for the 290,000 IDPs from the Vanni, and work with them to support these families to go back to their homes as soon as possible.

Over the past several weeks 22,800 tents and emergency shelters have been provided. Another 15,000 tents and more shelters are needed to provide adequate living space for IDPs.

Water and sanitation continues to be a huge challenge. Nearly 3,200 latrines have been constructed just over half of what is needed. For water 4,400 cubic metrics is currently being provided representing about 75 percent of the overall drinking and bathing needs.

Particular attention has been paid to the protection needs of children. 63 child friendly spaces for over 20,000 children have been established. Teams are also supporting program for former child soldiers many of whom were forcibly recruited.

Some 40,000 children have access to education and have been provided with education materials, covering approximately 40 percent of needed.

In response to questions on news reports alleging that some 20,000 civilians may have been killed in the last phase of the Sri Lankan conflict, the Spokeswoman said that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs could not independently verify the figure put forward by news organizations.

She explained that, at the height of the fighting, indicative casualty figures were provided to some member states in the course of an internal non-public meeting to underscore the humanitarian community's increasing concern about the fate of civilians trapped in the ever-shrinking space in northern Sri Lanka where the conflict was raging and resulting in injury and deaths of civilians, including women and children.

She added that Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes has addressed the issue in remarks to the press on a number of recent occasions.

The United Nations, Okabe stressed, has publicly and repeatedly said that the number of people killed has been unacceptably high and it shared its estimates of casualty figures with the government and others concerned. The United Nations has not been shy about the scale of human suffering and civilian casualties, she said. It had been ringing the alarm for a long time, she added.

Okabe also recalled that the Secretary-General was the first world leader to travel to Sri Lanka following the end of active fighting.

He was there with very strong messages. He pressed to get humanitarian assistance to those on the ground who need it desperately. And he raised issues of accountability with the Sri Lankan leadership, both publicly and privately. Okabe further noted that the SG sought and gained commitments on the medium-term goal of rapidly returning displaced civilians to their homes. More importantly, she said, the Secretary-General has been working hard on, and making it loud and clear that there is a need for, political reconciliation.

Responding to a question about whether the Secretary-General would brief the Security Council on Sri Lanka, Okabe said the Secretary-General was expected to brief member states early next week on his recent travels, including his visit to Sri Lanka.

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF CYPRUS FORCE, WELCOMES ELECTORAL TIMEFRAME IN CÔTE DIVOIRE

The

Security Council adopted two texts this morning.

According to the first text, a resolution on Cyprus, the Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus until 15 December 2009. It also welcomed progress made so far in the full-fledged negotiations between the Cyprus leaders.

Second, the Security Council adopted a President Statement on Côte dIvoire. By that text, the Council welcomed the agreement on a timeframe leading to the first round of presidential elections on 29 November 2009. The Council also reiterated its full support for having a credible electoral process in Côte dIvoire.

U.N. ENVOY IN CÔTE DIVOIRE UNDERLINES RECENT ADVANCES IN PEACE PROCESS

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative in Côte dIvoire, Choi Young-Jin, met yesterday with the countrys Prime Minister, Guillaume Soro.

According to the UN Operation in Côte dIvoire (ONUCI), the meeting followed recent advances made in the peace process. These include the setting of a date for the presidential elections, the transfer of powers from the Forces nouvelles zone commanders earlier this week, and the official publication of the process of certification of the Ivorian elections.

While welcoming these steps in the peace process, Choi stressed that much remained to be done adding that there would be challenges to meet to hold elections on 29 November. He said that everything would be done to ensure that these challenges are met successfully.

BAN KI-MOON CALLS ON INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO ASSIST SIERRA LEONES PEACEBUILDING EFFORTS

Available today is the Secretary-Generals latest

report on the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone. In it, the Secretary-General notes the recent outbreak of political violence in Sierra Leone. But he lauds the country for not giving in to what could have been a vicious cycle of attacks and counter-attacks.

In that regard, the leaders and ordinary citizens of Sierra Leone have not only offered hope for their own future but have set an example for other countries in the subregion, he says.

At the same time, the Secretary-General says he is concerned that the global financial crisis could affect international support for Sierra Leone. In that context, he calls on all Member States to continue their assistance to Sierra Leones peacebuilding efforts.

DR CONGO: U.N. ALLOCATES ADDITIONAL FUNDS TO ASSIST CIVILIANS IN NORTH-EAST

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is allocating $10.2 million from its Central Emergency Response Fund to assist some 200,000 people in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. OCHA says the money will help address lingering humanitarian consequences for civilians in the wake of attacks by the Lords Resistance Army.

A bit more than half of the funds should enable the World Food Programme (WFP) to improve food security for an estimated 160,000 people over the next three months. UNICEF, UNHCR and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will also receive some of the money to further their respective assistance programmes in the region.

This is the second Emergency Fund allocation to deal with the humanitarian aftermath of LRA attacks on Congolese civilians this year.

AFRICAN ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS ADOPT UNIFIED POSITION ON CLIMATE CHANGE,

AHEAD OF COPENHAGEN CONFERENCE

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

says that the fight against climate change in Africa has reached a major milestone today.

Over 30 African Environment Ministers adopted the Nairobi Declaration which according to UNEPwill provide a platform to make a strong case for increased support for the continent, at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, in December.

Meanwhile, starting Monday, 3,000 representatives from governments, business, environmental organizations and research institutions will participate in a new round of

talks on climate change, in Bonn. These discussions will focus on the texts to be negotiated to form an international response to climate change, to be agreed in Copenhagen.

W.H.O. CALLS FOR PICTURE WARNINGS ON ALL TOBACCO PACKAGES

The World Health Organization (WHO) today

urged Governments to require that all tobacco packages include picture warnings so that people can see the sickness and suffering caused by tobacco use.

WHO says that, even among people who believe tobacco is harmful, few understand its specific health risks.

For example, a survey held this year in China showed that only 37% of smokers knew that smoking causes coronary heart disease. And only 17% knew that it causes stroke.

WHO's call to action comes on the eve of World No Tobacco Day, which will be observed this Sunday.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

U.N. TRAINS AFGHAN DECISION MAKERS IN USE OF ICT: The United Nations is

bridging the digital divide in Afghanistan by training its decision makers in the use of information communication technology (ICT). The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) reports that this training programme called training the trainers will take place from May 31st to June 3rd.

NEW ECOTOURISM PROJECT TO PROTECT EASTER ISLAND: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Chile have launched a joint training project to develop tourism strategies that respect the universal value of Easter Islands Rapa Nui National Park. The park was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995. This project will allow the community to have a leading role in enhancing and promoting their own heritage.

  • ** The guests at the noon briefing today were Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and Susana Malcorra, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, on the occasion of the International Day of UN Peacekeepers.

    THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

    Sunday, 31 May

    Today is World No-Tobacco Day.

    Monday, 1 June

    The fact-finding mission established by the Human Rights Council last month, following its special session on the Gaza conflict, will travel to the region over the weekend. The mission, headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, will be in Gaza as of 1 June and will remain there for about one week.

    Today, Turkey will assume the rotating presidency of the Security Council for the month of June.

    The United Nations Population Award Ceremony will take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., in the ECOSOC Chamber. The Secretary-General will present the Population Award to the laureates, Mahmoud Fathalla of Egypt and the NGO Movimento Comunal Nicaraguense, from Nicaragua. The Executive Director of UNFPA, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, will also attend the ceremony.

    In Bonn, the United Nations Climate Change Talks, from today to 12 June, are expected to be attended by around 3,000 participants, including government delegates, representatives from business and industry, environmental organizations and research institutions.

    Today, the Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) will hold a public hearing to consider a motion challenging admissibility submitted by the Defence for Germain Katanga in the case of The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui. The hearing will be attended by the various parties and participants in the case as well as a delegation, headed by the Minister of Justice, Mr. Luzolo, representing the judicial authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

    Starting today and until 5 June, in Tunis, more than 100 experts from around the world will meet for the Third Session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

    Tuesday, 2 June

    In Geneva, the Human Rights Council will hold its eleventh session, from today to 18 June.

    At 12.30 p.m., Ambassador Baki &#304;lkin, Permanent Representative of Turkey and President of the Security Council for June, briefs on the Councils programme of work for the month.

    Wednesday, 3 June

    Starting today and until 12 June, the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space will hold its fifty-second session in Vienna.

    In Geneva, the ninety-eight session of the General Conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) will start today and run through 19 June.

    The guest at the noon briefing, Michael Adlerstein, Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of the Capital Master Plan (CMP), will provide an update on the CMP.

    Today, Cyprus leaders will meet in Nicosia, under the auspices of the United Nations.

    Leading up to World Environment Day (5 May), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) launches a report entitled "Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2009" on 3 May in New York and 4 May in Mexico.

    Thursday, 4 June

    From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Secretariat Lobby, the UN Foundation and Talkers Magazine, with support from the UN Department of Public Information, host the 4th Annual Talk Radio Day. The event will feature various American talk radio hosts and listeners who will have the opportunity to hear directly from UN officials, staff and diplomats on the importance of the work of the UN.

    At 7 p.m. in the UN visitor's lobby, UNEP opens a photo exhibit entitled "Shared Destiny: Wildlife from Africa to the Arctic" to mark tomorrows observance of World Environment Day.

    Friday, 5 June

    Today is World Environment Day. The theme of the observance this year is Your Planet Needs You-UNite to Combat Climate Change. UNEP holds a global launch of a report on biosequestration entitled "The Natural Fix? The Role of Ecosystems in Climate Mitigation." In the morning, the UN Church Centre hosts an interfaith observance for the Day.

    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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