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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-06-30
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
GEORGIA: SECRETARY-GENERAL ASKS ENVOY TO CONTINUE DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS DESPITE CLOSURE OF PEACEKEEPING MISSION
Following the lack of agreement of the Security Council to continue the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), the Mission effectively ceased its functions as of 16 June 2009, and started its withdrawal. The Secretary-General, in a
statement, expressed his gratitude to the parties for their cooperation with the Mission since its establishment in 1993, and welcomed their expressed readiness to continue to extend their support to the Mission until its full withdrawal.
The Secretary-General affirmed the readiness of the United Nations to continue its other key activities and remain engaged in the region. To that end, he has asked his Special Representative, Johan Verbeke, to continue to represent the United Nations at the ongoing Geneva international discussions on security and stability and on the return of internally displaced persons and refugees.
MYANMAR SHOULD RELEASE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS, BAN KI-MOON SAYS IN JAPAN
The Secretary-General arrived in Japan, where he had a meeting after his arrival, as well as a working dinner, with Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone.
Speaking to the press afterward, he said that he and the Foreign Minister had discussed the implementation of the Security Council resolution on the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Myanmar, UN-Japanese cooperation and the fight against piracy off the waters of Somalia.
Myanmar, he said that he realized that there are concerns about the timing of his visit because the trial of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is still pending. He said that he was very conscious of timing, but added that it had been a challenge to find the most appropriate time to come.
The Secretary-General stressed that the Government of Myanmar should release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi; they should immediately resume the dialogue between the Government and opposition leaders; and they should also create an atmosphere, as well as a legal framework, conducive to credible elections.
He also urged the North Korean authorities to refrain from taking any further measures which may deteriorate the already very serious situation there.
The Secretary-General has a full day on Tuesday in Tokyo. He will meet with Prime Minister Taro Aso, with Japanese business leaders, children, students, UN Goodwill Ambassadors and political leaders.
AFGHANISTAN: U.N. ENVOY EMPHASIZES IMPORTANCE OF FAIR ELECTIONS
Kai Eide, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Afghanistan, told the
Security Council in an open meeting today that the present situation in Afghanistan is complex, but, if it is managed well, could become a turning point to efforts to bring the conflict to an end.
He said that the elections in August will help to strengthen peoples confidence in the democratic process and strengthen Afghanistans institutions. He has urged all candidates to campaign with dignity and fairness and called on the international community to avoid any interference in the election process.
Eide noted that the Secretary-General, in his recent report on Afghanistan, had appealed for a review of operations by special forces. Eide welcomed the commitment by the commander of the forces on the ground to a fundamental shift in attitude, and noted that the majority of civilian casualties are caused by the insurgency.
He promised the Security Council that he would provide a set of benchmarks for the UN Mission in Afghanistans progress by September.
The open debate on Afghanistan continued, with 28 speakers inscribed.
Today is also the last day of the Turkish Presidency of the Security Council. Uganda will assume the rotating Presidency of the Council for the month of July.
IRAQ: U.N. REPRESENTATIVE NOTES STEADY PROGRESS TOWARDS RESTORATION OF FULL SOVEREIGNTY
On his last day as the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, Staffan de Mistura
congratulated the Government of Iraq on its steady progress towards the restoration of full sovereignty for the country, as well as for its efforts towards a more stable, democratic and unified Iraq. He said, as US troops are redeploying outside of Iraqi cities, What has been achieved is a real source for congratulation.
De Mistura added that the primary responsibility for putting Iraq on an irreversible path towards lasting peace and development rests with its people, who are relying on their political leaders to put the needs of the State and of the people above all other interests.
Also today, UNICEF says that a $10 million project funded by the European Community to improve Iraqs water and sanitation services is underway, and should improve water and sanitation for about 100,000 people in Iraq.
DARFUR MEDIATOR MEETS WITH REBEL LEADERS
A number of Darfur rebel groups say they are ready to resume peace talks with the Government of Sudan, according to the Office of the Joint United Nations-African Union Chief Mediator. According to his office, Djibril Bassolé met earlier today with the rebel leaders in Tripoli as part of his series of consultations with all the parties to the conflict. They discussed the Doha peace talks and conditions for the rebels effective participation in the search for a solution to the crisis.
Bassolés office also reported that Doha, Qatar, will remain the venue for the Darfur peace process. The Chief Mediator will soon propose a date for the resumption of the talks.
The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) says a contingent of peacekeepers came under attack Monday near their base in Geneina, in West Darfur. One peacekeeper sustained a gunshot wound in the leg and is in stable condition now. The attackers remain unidentified.
The Mission also reports that an advance party of Ethiopian peacekeepers has arrived in Darfur by road from Ethiopia, an 1,800-kilometer trip.
SOMALIA: NAVAL ESCORTS SUCCESSFUL IN PROTECTING FOOD AID FROM PIRATES
Somalia, a total of more than 170,000 people have been displaced from the capital, Mogadishu, since early May, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The continuing displacements are the result of fresh fighting between Government forces and Islamist fighters.
OCHA is warning that a spell of drought is also endangering the livelihoods of more than 700,000 pastoralists.
Despite the ongoing fighting and insecurity, OCHA reports that humanitarian agencies, including the World Food Programme, (WFP), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and UNICEF, have continued to provide urgently needed life-saving assistance to the affected population.
WFP also reports that since late 2007, when naval escorts started protecting ships loaded with WFP food heading to Somalia, not a single ship carrying the agencys food has been attacked by pirates. This positive development has ensured that a vital lifeline to some 3.5 million needy people is kept open.
Under the European Unions Atalanta operation, which started in December last year, WFP has been able to deliver more than 400,000 metric tons of food into Somalia, through the Mogadishu, Merka, Bossaso, and Berbera ports.
WFP remains extremely grateful to the European Union for committing itself to escorting ships carrying WFP food for this year.
WFP is worried about any rise in Somali piracy attacks against ships carrying humanitarian assistance and commercial cargoes to Mombasa port in neighbouring Kenya.
SECRETARY-GENERAL FOCUSED ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN D.R. CONGO
Asked about rapes and sexual violence allegedly committed by the armed forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Spokeswoman noted that the UN Mission there (MONUC) sees the protection of civilians as a vital focus of its work. It will assess and adjust its support for joint operations with the Congolese Armed Forces to ensure that such operations are conducted in accordance with international humanitarian law.
The Secretary-General has raised the issue of sexual violence directly with President Joseph Kabila, during his trip to the DRC and expressed his outrage after his meeting with victims of sexual violence in Goma.
He has been steadily focusing on the issue of sexual violence in the DRC, including his recent
statements and his appearance at a recent production of Ruined", a Pulitzer-prize winning play on that subject.
What is happening to women and girls in Congo is catastrophic, Montas said. The FDLR (Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda), she added, has long used rape as a weapon of war and undisciplined members of the national army are also committing rapes that remain unpunished.
She added, in response to a question about Jean-Bosco Ntaganda, that the United Nations will not have any involvement in operations where Ntaganda is present. As for arresting him, Montas said that question is up to the Congolese authorities.
U.N. AGENCY LAUDS TANZANIAS DECISION TO GIVE BURUNDIAN REFUGEES MORE TIME TO RETURN HOME
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has
welcomed a decision by the Tanzanian Government to give more time for the voluntary repatriation of some 36,000 Burundians living in the Mtabila refugee camp in northwestern Tanzania.
This last remaining camp hosting Burundian refugees in Tanzania was scheduled for closure today, when all its residents were expected to voluntarily repatriate home.
The Tanzanian Government has announced that the refugees will now have the chance to plan their return home during the traditional high season for repatriation, which runs to the end of September. The Tanzanian Government has also given the assurance that no refugee will be forcibly repatriated.
MYANMAR: 50,000TH REFUGEE LEAVES THAILAND FOR NEW LIFE IN UNITED STATES
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says the worlds largest resettlement programme today
passed a new milestone when the 50,000th Myanmar refugee left a camp in Thailand to begin a new life in the United States.
Resettlement from the nine refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border has been ongoing since 2004, but had received an enormous boost in early 2005 when the U.S. offered to give new homes to refugees from the camps.
The refugees, most of whom had been in Thailand for more than 20 years, had not seen a realistic prospect of returning to Myanmar any time soon and were also not able to settle permanently in Thailand.
Some 112,000 registered Myanmar refugees remain in the nine camps along the Thai-Myanmar border and UNHCR has expected to resettle a further 6,000 to 7,000 of them in 2009.
MORE FUNDS NEEDED TO HELP DISPLACED PAKISTANIS
The World Health Organizations Assistant Director-General for Health Action in Crises, Eric Laroche, is currently in Pakistan. He is there to support his agencys efforts to help the approximately 2 million people who have been displaced by violence in the countrys northwest.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), additional financial resources are needed to strengthen disease control efforts. Improving access to reproductive health services is also crucial.
WHO adds that more female health workers are needed to provide culturally sensitive health services to women and girls in Pakistans conflict-hit areas.
TIMOR-LESTE: NATIONAL POLICE ASSUMES RESPONSIBILITY IN 1 DISTRICT
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative in
Timor-Leste and the countrys Prime Minister presided today over a ceremony marking the resumption of primary police responsibilities by Timor-Lestes national police in one district.
The Timorese Government and the United Nations Mission in Timor-Leste are implementing the resumption process in a gradual manner, based on joint assessments and on the preparedness of Timorese police in each district and unit.
The UN Police will maintain its presence in the districts where the national police have resumed responsibilities, in order to support, provide advice and monitor the national police, including in the area of human rights protection.
UNICEF CHIEF VISITS SYRIA: On the first visit ever of a UNICEF Executive Director to the Syrian Arab Republic, Ann Veneman met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Government ministers and First Lady Asma Akhras al-Assad, and she visited programs assisting children, youth and Iraqi refugees. Syria is recognizing the critical importance of investing in children and adolescents, said Veneman. Yet challenges remain including ensuring quality education, providing opportunities for youth and addressing the impact of drought.
RIGHTS OFFICE IN NEPAL TO DOWNSIZE: The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal) will close its Western Regional Office in Nepal today, as part of its downsizing and restructuring. As of 1 July, OHCHR-Nepal will have three regional offices, a sub-office and a project office, in addition to its headquarters.
GAZA MISSION CONTINUING WORK: Asked about human rights in Gaza, the Spokeswoman noted that the inquiry that was requested by the
Human Rights Council, headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, has been continuing its work. It held two days of public hearings in Gaza earlier this week and will hold additional hearings in Geneva.
NEW KIT GIVES INFORMATION ON CLIMATE CONFERENCE: Available now is a
media kit for the World Climate Conference 3, to be held from 31 August to 4 September in Geneva. The kit was
launched in Geneva today by the World Meteorological Organization. It provides information on this conference, which will aim to initiate a Global Framework for Climate Services to boost climate adaptation.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
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