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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-07-16

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:







Thursday, July 16, 2009


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was

shocked and saddened by todays killing of a senior national staff member of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Mr. Zill-e-Usman, in Katcha Garhi refugee camp near Peshawar, Pakistan. One camp guard was also killed in the attack. A UN national staff member and a camp guard were injured.

The Secretary-General strongly condemns this brutal attack on humanitarian personnel who are working for the well-being of the Pakistani people. The United Nations remains committed to continuing humanitarian operations to assist the large number of people in need. The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the family of the victims and the Government of Pakistan.

The United Nations in Pakistan also condemned the brutal killing of one of its staff members.

Mr. Usman, was leaving the camp when his vehicle was attacked and a kidnapping attempt. He was shot several times in the chest and later died of his wounds.

The UN Resident Coordinator in Pakistan said the UN community in Pakistan is once again devastated to have yet another staff member a victim of a brutal attack. Stressing that there is simply no cause or justification for such acts, he reiterated the U.N.s determination to continue humanitarian support to the Pakistani people and the ongoing development work in spite of the daily difficulties and dangers the it may face.

The High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres,

said: "It is unacceptable that humanitarian workers doing such vital and selfless work are attacked in this way." And he called on armed groups of all descriptions to cease attacks on humanitarian workers whose mission is to provide protection and assistance to the needy.

UN staff gathered at headquarters in Geneva on Thursday at noon for a minute of silence to honor their colleague.


The independent UN Commission of Inquiry into the facts and circumstances of the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto arrived in Islamabad today and held a productive meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari.

President Zardari was accompanied by his three children. Also present at the meeting were the Minister of the Interior, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Law and Justice and Human Rights.

Earlier, the Chairman of the Commission, Ambassador Heraldo Munoz and his two colleagues Mazurki Darusman and Peter Fitzgerald, were given an extensive briefing by senior officials of the Ministry of Interior, explaining some details about the assassination of the former Prime Minister. The commissioners then engaged the officials in a period of questions and answers and further clarifications.

The Commission continues its activities in Pakistan, with meetings and interviews with relevant officials and individuals.

Asked how long the Bhutto Commission would stay in Pakistan, and whether it would keep shuttling back and forth between New York and Islamabad, the Deputy Spokesperson said she could not provide additional details because of security concerns. She did reiterate, however, that the Commission had a six-month mandate.


The Secretary-General is

appalled and saddened by the murder of the Russian human rights activist Natalia Estemirova following her abduction from her home in Grozny.

He urges the Russian authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation in order to bring the perpetrators of this heinous killing to justice, and by so doing, to send a strong and unambiguous message that the targeting of human rights activists will not be tolerated.

The Secretary-General expresses his solidarity with human rights defenders around the world who work courageously and selflessly each and every day, in defense of basic rights and freedoms.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay added that this case underlines the need for governments to do much more to protect human rights defenders. She also noted that the work of human rights defenders in Russia, and in particular the North Caucasus, is precarious.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

expressed shock and deep sorrow at the murder. The Russian non-governmental organization for which Ms. Estemirova worked is one of UNHCRs implementing partners.




Security Council held a meeting this morning on Sierra Leone. Addressing Council members, Stephen Rapp, Prosecutor of the

Special Court for Sierra Leone, noted the Special Courts importance for the thousands who were mutilated, the tens of thousands who were murdered, and the hundreds of thousands who were subjected to sexual violence.

Rapp also spoke of the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. He said that trial was proceeding smoothly, with a high level of transparency, efficiency and fairness. He said he expected the entry of judgment by mid-2010 and finalization on appeal by early 2011. Rapp added that the proceedings in Freetown have resulted in historic developments in international humanitarian law.

Justice Renate Winter, the Special Courts President, also briefed Council members. She noted that the Special Court was the first court in history to establish as crimes against humanity the forcible recruitment and use of child soldiers, attacks against UN peacekeepers, and the use of forced marriages.

She also reiterated the importance of completing Charles Taylors trial, which she called so critical to preserving the fragile peace and stability in West Africa.


The latest

report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council on the UN Mission in Sudan is out as a document today.

The Security Council is scheduled to take up the report in consultations tomorrow and Alain Le Roy, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations will be briefing on the report.

In the report, the Secretary-General notes a deterioration in the security situation in Southern Sudan, saying that escalating inter-tribal violence is a significant threat to the stability of the country as a whole. He warns that key milestones in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement such as the elections and referendums could easily be affected be the growing insecurity.

He says the conduct of peaceful, transparent and credible elections is fundamental for the process of democratic transformation throughout Sudan and it is only possible if all Sudanese stakeholders, including those in Darfur, work together to enhance a conducive political environment.

The reports notes the recent positive developments in the joint efforts of the Government and the United Nations and its partners to narrow the most critical humanitarian gaps in the aftermath of the 4 March expulsion of international NGOs. But the Secretary-General notes that the current levels of assistance in some areas remain below the necessary standards. He urges the government to do its utmost to provide a safe and secure environment for these operations to continue.

Asked if Mr. Le Roy had met with Sudans President during his visit to Sudan, the Deputy Spokesperson later announced that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations said no such meeting had taken place.


In Somalia, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is

calling for urgent action in light of the deteriorating health situation in the South and Central parts of the country, including in Mogadishu.

OCHA says that the increasing frequency of communicable disease outbreaks, rising rates of severe acute malnutrition, decreasing immunization rates, are symptomatic of the poor coverage and quality of essential health care as well as of the shortages of life saving medicines and trauma supplies.

With the country already facing one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world, the humanitarian health community is finding itself constrained by the health funding deficit. According to OCHA, a number of critical life saving health projects havent been initiated and ongoing ones are under threat of cessation.


The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno-Ocampo has

received material on post-lection violence in Kenya.

This week, he received two reports from the Kenyan Attorney General. In the coming days, the Prosecutor will receive materials transmitted by Kofi Annan, the Chairman of the African Union Panel of Eminent African Personalities. These materials consist of six boxes of documents compiled by the Commission of Inquiry into the Post-Election Violence -- known as the Waki Commission-- and an envelope with a list of possible suspects by the Waki Commission.

According to the ICC, the content of the envelope will remain confidential and the Office of the Prosecutor will use all information received in its analysis work.

The situation in Kenya has been under preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor since 2008. No decision has been made yet as whether or not to open an investigation.


In response to a question concerning explosions in the general area of Khirbat Silim, in southern Lebanon, the Deputy Spokesperson said the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) had been concerned that, yesterday, some civilians had been attempting to hamper access to the site.

Nevertheless, Okabe added, UNIFIL was able to access the site of the explosions, following coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces and after the site was deemed safe enough for specialized teams to go in.

UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces are at the site now, Okabe said, and the investigations are ongoing.

Asked about the implications for Security Council resolution 1701, the Deputy Spokesperson later added that, based on the information currently available, UNIFIL considers the incident of the explosions a serious violation of that resolution, notably with regards to the provision that there should be no presence of unauthorized assets or weapons in the area of operation between the Litani River and the Blue Line.


ASSISTANCE TO FLOOD SURVIVORS IN BENIN: The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that UN agencies are working to help disaster survivors in Benin, in West Africa, where heavy rainfall has led to severe

flooding. The UN Development Programme, for example, has made funds available for relief coordination and needs assessments. For its part, UNICEF has provided 3,000 chlorine tablets for water treatment and 1,000 mosquito nets. The agency has also provided $100,000 to finance water and sanitation activities and to fund a health awareness campaign. Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency has donated blankets, mosquito nets, mats and tents. And the UN Population Fund is working to fund maternal health care.

DETENTION OF STAFF IN SRI LANKA: Asked about the detention of national staff in Sri Lanka, the Deputy Spokesperson said the Secretary-General had raised the issue during his bilateral meeting with the President of Sri Lanka yesterday. Okabe added that the Secretary-General would continue to raise and follow up on that issue.

OWLS BRED TO FIGHT RODENT ATTACKS ON FOOD SUPPLIES: The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has decided to breed barn owls in Laos to protect food supplies from further rodent attacks. Rodents wiped out crops in seven provinces in the country last November where hunger is already widespread. FAO says that the owl breeding project is still in its planning stages, and that the birds will be distributed in the areas hit by the food shortages.

MOBILE PHONES AS DEVELOPMENT TOOLS: This morning in Geneva, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held a Dialogue with Executive Heads of the United Nations funds and programmes. They discussed the UN development systems contribution to national capacity building and technology innovation. Among the funds and programmes represented, Ann Veneman, the Executive Director of UNICEF, discussed how mobile phones proved to be an extremely powerful development tool in countries such as Nigeria and Uganda.

  • ** The guests at the noon briefing today were Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Planning, and Dr. David Nabarro, Senior UN System Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza, and Coordinator of the High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis. They discussed issues relating to global food security and Influenza A (H1N1).

    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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