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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-07-28
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ
ASSOCIATE SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
On Wednesday, 29 July, at 11:00 am, the Secretary-General will hold his monthly press conference. There will be no noon briefing that day, but highlights of the press conference and other news from the UN system will be posted on the web.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WRAPS UP MONGOLIA VISIT, HEADS BACK TO NEW YORK
The Secretary-General ended his trip to Mongolia today, accepting an honorary degree from the National University of Mongolia.
As he accepted his degree, the Secretary-General
told his audience that, during his three days in Mongolia, he witnessed how much the country is striving to see to the wellbeing of its citizens and contributing to global progress. He recalled his meetings with Government officials, members of the herder community and Mongolians who will serve in United Nations peacekeeping, and added that he even got to name a baby horse. All of these activities have deepened my admiration for this country, he said.
The Secretary-General is expected back in New York later today.
ISRAELI BLOCKADE CAUSING UNTOLD SUFFERING TO CHILDREN IN GAZA
The UN Humanitarian Country Team in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which brings together UN humanitarian agencies and international development bodies, today held an
advocacy event at the American School in Gaza, which was destroyed in the fighting six months ago. The goal was to highlight the impact of Israels blockade on
children and education in Gaza.
Addressing participants, the UNs acting Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Philippe Lazzarini, said the blockade has caused untold suffering to children in Gaza, who face another academic year in terrible conditions. In that context, he demanded full and unfettered access into and out of Gaza, in particular to restore the Gazan educational system.
He added that, during Israels recent operation in Gaza, 18 schools were completely destroyed and at least 280 were damaged.
Today, one month before the start of the new school year, and more than six months after the ceasefires, none of these schools have been properly rebuilt or rehabilitated due to a lack of construction materials. In addition, he said, since the imposition of the blockade, students have faced chronic shortages of educational supplies, including textbooks, paper and uniforms.
Meanwhile, in Geneva today, the Economic and Social Council held a
debate on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian living conditions.
AFGHANISTAN: ENVOY CONDEMNS ATTACK ON U.N. COMPOUND
On Monday night, the United Nations compound in Herat, in western
Afghanistan, came under attack by anti-government elements. Seven rockets were fired with two rockets landing inside the compound. No UN staff were harmed or otherwise injured in this attack and UN offices remain open.
statement, Kai Eide, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Afghanistan, condemned this deliberate attack against the United Nations. He said that UN staff work to help Afghanistans most vulnerable communities, and the impartiality of the work they do for the people of Afghanistan must be respected. Eide urged the Afghan authorities to make every effort to find the culprits behind this attack and hold them accountable.
U.N. ENVOY BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL ON SUDAN-CHAD CLASHES, INSECURITY IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
Security Council this morning held an open meeting on Chad and the Central African Republic, on which it received a briefing by the Secretary-Generals Special Representative dealing with those countries, Victor da Silva Angelo.
Angelo noted the recent clashes between Sudan and Chad, and said that there is an urgent need to de-escalate the situation and resume diplomatic initiatives. Meanwhile, he said, the situation in the Vakaga region in the northeastern Central African Republic has been extremely insecure over the last three months, with concerns about the activities of armed groups and bandits in the area.
The Special Representative also detailed the work of the UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), which he says now stands at 46 percent of its mandated strength. He noted, among other needs, the lack of air assets with enhanced night-flight capability, with MINURCAT having only four out of a planned 18 military helicopters, a situation he called unacceptable.
DEPUTY HUMANITARIAN CHIEF HEARS MOVING TESTIMONIES IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
On the second day of a five-day visit to the Central African Republic, Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Catherine Bragg this morning visited the town of Kabo, in the northwest. She met with local authorities and some internally displaced civilians. She also met with the Kabo humanitarian community. Before departing, Bragg said that she was moved by the testimonies of civilians who described their hardships and deplorable living conditions.
She called on the Government and opposition leaders to follow through on the peace agreement and to contribute to the peace and security of the Kabo region. She also urged them to alleviate fear among displaced civilians so as to allow them to return to their homes.
Bragg is now in the town of Paoua from where she will travel to the capital, Bangui, on Wednesday.
DARFUR CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS TO BE ALLOWED TO CARRY OUT ELECTION WORK WITHOUT INTERFERENCE
The UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has been informed by Sudans National Elections Commission that it has completed the demarcation of national and state constituencies for general elections planned for April 2010. The Commission also said that regional committees have been established in all three Darfur states. The committees will have authority to clear all election-related activities.
UNAMID says it has received assurances that civil society groups will be allowed to carry out voter sensitization work without restriction or interference. In particular, neither the Sudanese intelligence services nor the Humanitarian Aid Commission will interfere with their work, leaving contentious issues to be handled by the Elections Commission.
Asked about the case of a Sudanese journalist, Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein, who has been sentenced to 40 lashes for wearing trousers, the Spokesperson recalled that the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), which employs her, has been in contact with the authorities to ensure that basic human rights are upheld, in the context of national laws governing such issues. He added that the United Nations has repeatedly spoken out against discriminatory practices. The sentence, he noted, has not yet been carried out.
SOMALIA: THOUSANDS OF CIVILIANS RISKING LIVES TO CROSS INTO YEMEN
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
says that the ongoing fighting in Mogadishu and central Somalia is pushing thousands of Somali civilians to risk their lives to cross the Gulf of Aden and seek asylum in Yemen.
UNHCR says that the majority of the 12,000 people who have found temporary shelter in the town of Bossaso, in northern Somalia, since 7 May, are waiting for the first opportunity offered by smugglers to cross the Gulf. These internally displaced people are part of some 232,000 Somalis who have been forced to leave their homes since the beginning of May.
In 2008, more than 50,000 new arrivals reached Yemens shores - a 70% increase from 2007, according to UNHCR. The agency adds that the trend has continued during the first six months of 2009 with around 30,000 new arrivals about the same as the total for the whole of 2007. More than 1,000 people drowned en route in 2008 and so far this year, almost 300 have died or gone missing.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED BY SECTARIAN VIOLENCE IN NIGERIA
In response to a question about the recent violence in Nigeria, the Associate Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is concerned over news reports of yet another round of sectarian violence in parts of Northern Nigeria last weekend. He extends his condolences to the people of Nigeria and the families of those who lost their lives or were wounded in the violence.
Haq said that the Secretary-General condemns the unnecessary loss of human life and the destruction of property as a result of militant attacks. He hopes that those behind the attacks would be identified and brought to justice in accordance with the law.
The Secretary-General, he added, calls upon the Government of Nigeria, law enforcement and security agencies, as well as religious and community leaders to work together to address the underlying causes of the frequent religious clashes in Nigeria so that a resolution could be found through dialogue, tolerance and understanding.
U.N. AGENCY TRYING TO DETERMINE WHICH AGE GROUPS ARE MOST AT RISK FOR H1N1
Regarding the H1N1 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO)
says that more than 124,000 lab-confirmed cases have now been reported. The majority of those cases are among children between the ages of 12 and 17.
As the pandemic spreads further, other age groups are also becoming more affected, the agency adds. WHO says that its top priority is now to determine which age groups are at the highest risk -- so that measures can be taken to protect them.
At the same time, WHO notes that the pandemic is still considered to be moderate, with the majority of cases showing only mild symptoms.
NOTHING TO SUGGEST CORRUPTION AMONG CAMBODIA COURT JUDGES
The Associate Spokesperson read out the following correction during todays noon briefing:
I would like to make a correction for the record with regard to a statement that the Spokesperson made at the noon briefing on 30 March 2009.
In the questions and answers, while discussing the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), the Spokesperson stated that some of the allegations of corruption that had been made in connection with that institution concerned Cambodian judges. That was incorrect. Id like to note that the Spokesperson made a further statement the following day, 31 March, which clarified that the allegations of corruption concerned officials on the Cambodian side of the Administration of the Extraordinary Chambers and not the judges.
I would like to reiterate that the confidential Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) review concerns allegations of corruption among officials on the Cambodian side of the Administration of the ECCC. We have no information to suggest that there has been or is corruption among any of the judges of the ECCC, nor information that would suggest that the ECCC judicial process is in any way prejudiced by corruption.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CLOSELY FOLLOWING EVENTS IN MYANMAR
Asked about the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar, the Associate Spokesperson said that the Secretary-Generals position has not changed and his
statement of 14 May still stands.
The Secretary-General, Haq recalled, indicated his grave concern about this situation and clearly urged the authorities to refrain from any actions that could undermine the national reconciliation process in Myanmar. He strongly believes that all the people of Myanmar should be allowed to contribute to the future of their country through a credible and inclusive political process. The Secretary-General continues to follow events closely.
IRAN SITUATION CAN BE RESOLVED THROUGH NEGOTIATIONS: Asked about Irans nuclear programme, the Spokesperson reiterated that the Secretary-General continues to believe that the situation can be resolved through negotiations. To that end, he has called for Iran to cooperate with the
International Atomic Energy Agency and to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions, and he has asked all sides to refrain from unhelpful rhetoric.
U.N. WELCOMES BROAD CIVIL SOCIETY PARTICIPATION: Asked about votes taken in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on Monday concerning the accreditation of non-governmental organizations, the Spokesperson noted that the matter was in the hands of ECOSOC members. He added that the United Nations encourages as broad participation by civil society as possible.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
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