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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-07-01
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS WITH JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER, OTHER LEADS ON NEED FOR CLIMATE DEAL
The Secretary-General, in his meetings with a wide range of Japanese leaders and people today, emphasized the need to "seal the deal" at Copenhagen and said he cannot imagine a truly effective response to this challenge without Japans leadership.
The Secretary-General held a meeting, and a working dinner, this evening in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso. He
said afterward that he had reaffirmed his conviction of the need to resume dialogue on the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK), including the six-party talks, and expressed the UN's readiness to provide any assistance required. He also discussed
Myanmar, which he will visit later this week, and expressed his appreciation for Japan's support to his efforts there.
The Prime Minister briefed the Secretary-General on Japans latest contribution to UN peacekeeping and the Secretary-General expressed his appreciation for its decision to take part in the UN Peacekeeping Operations Standby Arrangements.
The Secretary-General began his day in Tokyo with a breakfast with Japanese business leaders from the Keizai Doyukai and the Global Compact Japan Network, who are playing a leading role to bring a new era of responsible and sustainable business. He then had a lively exchange with students at Tokyo University.
The Secretary-General also had an opportunity to reach out to the next generation of Japans leaders by being interviewed on a childrens news programme. And he met with a special group of Japanese celebrities who are working hard as UN Goodwill Ambassadors to mobilize support for victims of poverty and oppression around the world.
On Thursday, the Secretary-General will depart for Singapore, and he will then travel to Myanmar on Friday.
Asked what the Secretary-General hopes to accomplish in Myanmar, the Spokeswoman recalled that the Secretary-General had expressed four main areas of concern on which he intends to move forward: the release of all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; the resumption of dialogue between the Government and Opposition as a necessary part of any national reconciliation process; the need to create conditions conducive to credible elections; and the need to consolidate and build on the joint humanitarian effort launched further to Cyclone Nargis.
U.N. MISSION IN IRAQ CONDEMNS BOMB ATTACK IN KIRKUK
The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) issued with a statement today, angrily condemning the deadly bomb attack in al-Shourga market in Kirkuk, which killed and injured dozens of innocent people. The Mission said the attack was yet another attempt to provoke reactions that would lead to sectarian and ethnic conflict.
The UN Mission extended its sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery for the wounded, and it called on all groups not to respond in the fashion that the killers want them to do: with revenge.
Asked who is heading the UN Mission following the departure of Staffan de Mistura, the Spokeswoman said that Andrew Gilmour is currently the acting head of the Mission.
BHUTTO COMMISSION FORMALLY BEGINS MANDATE
The six-month mandate of the Commission of Inquiry into the facts and circumstances of the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has formally begun today.
The Commission is composed of three members. Ambassador Heraldo Muñoz of Chile heads the Commission, and he is joined by Marzuki Darusman of Indonesia and Peter Fitzgerald of the Republic of Ireland. The Commission will soon be making its first visit to Pakistan. The date of this visit is yet to be finalized.
U.N. ENVOY DISCUSSES GEORGIA WITH EUROPEAN COUNTERPARTS
Earlier today in Geneva, Johan Verbeke, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for
Georgia, participated in a press conference, along with his counterparts from the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The press conference followed todays round of the Geneva International Discussions. A joint communiqué was read out on behalf of Verbeke and the other two co-chairs of the Discussions.
In remarks to the press, Verbeke said that there had been a very concrete result today. He said that the Abkhaz side, which had always been committed to a prevention mechanism, had indicated that they would now move to the implementation stage. Proof of that was that, on 14 July, there would be a first consultative meeting in Gali under UN auspices, Verbeke added.
Participants of the Discussions agreed to meet again on 17 September 2009.
SPOKESWOMAN RECALLS CONCERNS ABOUT POST-ELECTORAL VIOLENCE IN IRAN
Asked whether the Secretary-General has congratulated Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his election in Iran, the Spokeswoman said that letters of congratulation go out to governments as they are brought into office. Beyond that, she said, the United Nations does not determine heads of state; that determination is made by each countrys people.
Once a new government is seated, it would receive a congratulatory letter, but that has yet to happen in this case, she added.
Asked about the Secretary-Generals response to developments in Iran, Montas said his main concern had been about the post-electoral violence.
U.N. ENVOY FOR WESTERN SAHARA COMPLETES TRIP TO REGION
Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, has completed his second trip to the region since his appointment, at the beginning of the year.
He was in Madrid on Tuesday, where he met with Spains Foreign Minister, on the final leg of the weeklong tour.
Ross made previous stops in Algiers, Tindouf, Nouakchott and Rabat, and said he was optimistic about an upcoming informal meeting intended to pave the way for a fifth round of negotiations. He added that such a meeting would make an important contribution to the search for a resolution to the conflict, which has gone on too long and is hindering the work which needs to be done on regional integration.
U.N. MISSION DEPLORES NEW PRISON BREAK IN D.R. CONGO
The Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has deplored the prison break that occurred this past Friday at the Aru Central Prison, in the northeastern Ituri province. This is the second reported prison break in the DRC in less than a month.
The Mission says prison conditions at Aru and across much of the country remain well below international standards. It again called on the Congolese Government to improve conditions and strengthen security at all detention facilities.
Meanwhile, the Mission says that more than 10,000 Rwandan refugees and former rebels have been repatriated since January. The Mission says that the bulk of returnees are civilian refugees, but the number also includes some 1,100 former fighters.
FORCE COMMANDER, DEPUTY VISIT TROOPS IN DARFUR
The Force Commander for the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), General Martin Luther Agwai, has continued his visits to the troops across Darfur. Today General Agwai visited an Egyptian Battalion deployed in Ed Al Fursan in South Darfur.
His new Deputy, General Duma Dumisani, has also been out in the field, visiting the South Darfuri towns of Nyala, El Daein and Muhajeriya.
In the meantime, the Civil Affairs Section of UNAMID has held a one-day workshop on social peace-building in Nyala. The key issues that were tackled included how to solve land disputes among different groups, transitional justice and ways to prevent clashes between farmers and pastoralists.
The workshop was attended by civil society organizations, Government officials and participants from Nyala University.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL ADDRESSES AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT
Deputy Secretary-General Asha Rose Migiro earlier today delivered an
address, on the Secretary-Generals behalf, to the 13th ordinary session of the Assembly of the African Union in Sirte, Libya.
Noting the meetings goal of addressing the role of agriculture in African food security and economies, she said progress toward the
Millennium Development Goals remains inadequate. She also said that climate, violent conflicts and the resurgence of non-constitutional changes of governments continue to imperil the lives of millions across Africa.
Clearly, we meet at a critical time, she said, exhorting the heads of states and delegates at the meeting to mobilize action to protect the poorest and most vulnerable and prevent more from joining their ranks.
FOOD AGENCY SAYS D.P.R.K. OPERATIONS ARE UNDER-FUNDED
The World Food Programme (WFP) says due to the limited amount of resources received, the global food body will drastically scale back its operations in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Deputy Executive Director Amir Abdualla said its operations are grossly under-funded, with WFP only having received $75 million, with $504 million needed to reach all the hungry people in the country.
WFP Spokesperson in the DPRK, Lena Savelli, in an interview today to UN Radio, said the agency will now be focusing on operations in only 57 counties in the country, instead of the 131 counties it had planned to feed originally. This will bring down the planned number of beneficiaries from 6.2 million to 2.27 million.
Current resources are sufficient to be at around this level of distribution through to October, but the program ends in November.
RWANDA TRIBUNAL TRANSFERS NINE PRISONERS TO BENIN
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) says it has
transferred nine prisoners from the UN Detention Facility in Arusha to Cotonou, in the Republic of Benin. The prisoners will be serving the remainder of their sentences there.
The transfer comes as a result of decisions adopted in May by the President of the Tribunal after signing relevant agreements with the Government of Benin. The Tribunal says the prisoners are now in the custody of Beninois prison authorities and have begun serving their sentences at a detention facility in Port-Novo.
DRUG TO ELIMINATE RIVER BLINDNESS BEING TESTED
The World Health Organization (WHO)
reports that a clinical trial is being launched in three African countries of a drug that could eliminate river blindness.
According to the agency, river blindness is a devastating illness that has plagued 30 African countries for centuries. Over 100 million people are at risk of infection.
The development of the new drug is being carried out by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, which is sponsored by UNICEF, the UN Development Programme and the World Bank, as well as WHO.
UNCTAD WARNS OF MORE SEVERE FOOD CRISES IN AFRICA
Agricultural experts are
warning that more severe food crises may occur in Africa, unless extensive and long-term efforts are made to prevent them.
During UNCTADs meeting on Food Security in Africa, which ended in Geneva, they said that the African farming sector had been neglected for years. They called for a massive, well-funded programme to support small farmers who produce the majority of Africas food.
The gathering also stressed how climate change added to Africas food crisis, by bringing droughts and floods.
UNFPA, WORLD BANK CONCERNED ABOUT FUNDING FOR FAMILY PLANNING
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Bank are
concerned that family planning and other reproductive health programmes vital to poor women have fallen off the development radar. The global economic crisis, they say, has markedly compounded the lack of funding for such programmes, thus jeopardizing the achievement of the
Millennium Development Goal for maternal health.
UNFPA estimates that more than 500,000 women die each year during pregnancy and childbirth from mostly preventable and treatable medical problems. Calling for an increased investment in women, UNFPA Executive Director, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, said that it is not a lack of knowledge that is hindering progress; it is a lack of political will to protect the health and rights of women.
UGANDA ASSUMES SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENCY: With the start of a new month, a new
Security Council President has taken office, with Uganda replacing Turkey in the Councils rotating Presidency. Ambassador Ruhakana Rugunda of Uganda will hold bilateral consultations with Council members today on the programme of work for July.
SECRETARY-GENERAL STANDS BY NEED FOR REINSTATEMENT OF HONDURAS LEADERSHIP: Asked who is recognized as the Government of Honduras, the Spokeswoman referred to the Secretary-Generals recent
statement, which called for the return of constitutional order and the reinstatement of the elected government. That statement stands.
W.F.P. HAS FOOD SUPPLIES FOR NEXT TWO MONTHS IN PAKISTAN Asked about funding for aid to displaced persons in Pakistan, the Spokeswoman noted that the World Food Programme (WFP) said that it had enough food supplies to provide aid for the next two months, despite a 51 percent shortfall in its funding for that effort.
BAN KI-MOON HAS USED GOOD OFFICES IN D.P.R.K.: Asked whether the Secretary-General has used his good offices to obtain the release of two journalists detained in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, the Spokeswoman said that he has tried to use his good offices discreetly.
U.N. HIRES LAWYER FOR DETAINED STAFF IN SRI LANKA: Asked about two UN staff detained in Sri Lanka, the Spokeswoman confirmed that both are still detained but added that the United Nations has hired a lawyer who is working on their case.
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