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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-09-04

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 THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, September 4, 2009

BAN KI-MOON REAFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR GUATEMALAS COMMISSION AGAINST IMPUNITY

Today, as the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) marks its second anniversary, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

reaffirms his strong support and appreciation for CICIGs ground-breaking efforts to help strengthen the justice sector and rule of law in Guatemala. He commends CICIG Commissioner Carlos Castresana and his staff for their dedication and notes with satisfaction the broad support the Commission has earned from all sectors of Guatemalan society.

The Secretary-General calls on Guatemalas political and judicial authorities to strengthen their commitment to the fulfillment of CICIGs mandate over the coming two years. He urges full respect for the Commissions mandate and independence, and calls for prompt action on legal and institutional reform proposals made by CICIG aimed at removing obstacles to the identification and prosecution of criminal organisations.

The Secretary-General encourages the international community to continue to provide political and financial support to the Commission. The people of Guatemala deserve judicial institutions they can trust and be protected by, and the United Nations is pleased to be assisting, through CICIG, towards these ends.

BAN KI-MOON WRAPS UP WEEK-LONG EUROPE TRIP

The Secretary-General is on his way back to New York after completing a week-long trip to Austria, Norway and Switzerland.

Before leaving Geneva today, the Secretary-General met with World Health Organization Director General Margaret Chan, with whom he talked about the UN response to H1N1 influenza.

He then met with the President of Mozambique, Armando Emilio Guebuza, and they talked about climate change and peace and security issues in Africa. He also had meetings with the heads of the International Labour Organization and the International Telecommunications Union.

The Secretary-General yesterday discussed climate change and other topics in meetings with a series of leaders who were attending the third

World Climate Conference. Among them were the Presidents of Tajikistan, Slovenia and Ethiopia and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

In response to a question, the Spokeswoman noted that the Secretary-General met on Thursday with Mahinda Samarasinghe, Minister for Disaster Management and Human Rights of Sri Lanka.

They discussed the conditions in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), particularly with the approaching monsoon season. They also discussed the return of IDPs, as well as the importance of free movements of people among the camps and free movement of UN and international humanitarian workers. They talked about the importance of reconciliation, and they also discussed accountability, particularly in light of the recent accusations of extrajudicial executions.

UNITED NATIONS TO SEND TEAM FOLLOWING AIR STRIKES IN AFGHANISTAN

Peter Galbraith, the Secretary-Generals Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, today expressed his concern about reports of casualties among civilians from an air strike against stolen trucks in the Aliabad district of Kunduz province.

As an immediate priority, everything possible must be done to ensure that people wounded by this attack are being properly cared for, and that families of the deceased are getting all the help they need, he said. Steps must also be taken to examine what happened and why an air strike was employed in circumstances where it was hard to determine with certainty that civilians were not present. The UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) is sending a team to look into the situation.

HUMANITARIAN SERVICES IN PAKISTAN SHIFTING FOCUS

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that humanitarian services in

Pakistan are shifting focus from hosting communities to areas of return, to better meet the needs of the increasing number of returning displaced persons.

As of 1 September, over 234,500 families (or roughly 1.64 million people) have returned to their homes. The rate of IDPs returning home from camps and host communities has slowed significantly in the past few weeks, OCHA says.

The World Food Programme and humanitarian agencies dealing with food have been asked to cover the food needs of over 56,000 families (some 392,000 individuals) in the district of Swat. The aid community currently has 14 humanitarian hubs in Swat, Buner and Bajaur, and this will be increased.

REFUGEE AGENCY URGES CHINA FOR ACCESS TO MYANMAR-CHINA BORDER AREA

Following reports of refugees fleeing fighting in parts of Myanmar in recent weeks, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has called on the Chinese authorities to allow access to the border area. The refugee agency has also proposed a joint needs assessment.

UNHCR hopes to visit these locations to assist the Government in the provision of humanitarian assistance and to determine whether any of the people who remain there are in need of international protection, should the situation deteriorate in the Wa State near the Myanmar-China border.

The Refugee Agency has expressed deep appreciation to the Government of China for hosting this population and for everything the authorities in Yunnan Province are reported to have done in terms of providing emergency shelter, food, clothing and medical care for the 13,000 or so refugees who are accommodated in seven camp sites.

Although they have not been able to visit these locations, UNHCR has been receiving consistent reports and are aware of Chinese official media reports that some of the 37,000 ethnic Chinese Kokang people who crossed into China from Myanmar have begun returning home.

HEAVY FIGHTING CONTINUES IN YEMEN

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports continued heavy fighting between Al Houti forces and Government troops in the Saada governorate in northern Yemen. It says that the situation is most critical in the city of Saada, which has been cut off from the rest of the world for more than two weeks. The road to Saada is extremely dangerous as clashes continue.

There has been no water or electricity in Saada city since 12 August, UNHCR reports. Food reserves are running low and the situation is becoming untenable for families, many of whom are hosting friends, relatives or neighbours displaced by the street battles.

The Refugee Agency adds that it still has no access to Al Jawf province, where an estimated 4,000 internally displaced persons are seeking shelter. UNHCR estimates that some 150,000 people have been affected by conflict in Yemen, including those displaced by recent hostilities.

UNITED NATIONS HOPES FOR FORMATION OF NEW GOVERNMENT IN LEBANON

Michael Williams, the

UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, met today with Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and congratulated him on his recent initiatives to engage all the parliamentary blocs in the discussions on forming the government. Williams told reporters afterward that he hopes the formation of a new government will be accomplished soon, particularly given the many social, economic and security challenges that it will have to face.

He added that he is pleased with the calm that has prevailed in southern Lebanon.

WORLD FOOD BODY MAKES APPEAL TO FEED 3.5 MILLION HUNGRY SOMALIS

The World Food Programme, (WFP) is urgently

appealing for 217,000 metric tons of food the equivalent of $218 million - to feed 3.5 million people by the end of October when stocks will run out.

The appeal follows a recent FAO report indicating that half the Somali population, or 3.8 million people are in need of assistance. WFP is calling for critical donor contributions to avert a looming humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia.

Meanwhile a delegation from the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), led by the Deputy Special Representative for Somalia, Charles Petrie, has visited Somaliland this week, to explore ways of strengthening the UNs engagement in Somaliland. The delegation met with representatives of various political parties and civil society plus other officials. They also held a constructive meeting with the President of Somaliland, Dahir Riyale Kahin.

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, welcomed the visit and said he hoped it was proof of Somalilands determination to move towards peace and compromise. Somaliland has an impressive history of resolving its internal tensions peacefully, and I hope this tradition will be used to address the current challenges, Ould-Abdallah said.

FLOODS ACROSS WEST AFRICA AFFECT SOME 350,000 PEOPLE

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that floods across West Africa have affected an estimated 350,000 people.

Burkina Faso appears to be the worst hit country with some 110,000 people relocated, mainly in the capital, Ouagadougou. The authorities have reported five deaths and the main university hospital was flooded with patients needing to be evacuated.

A seven-member UN assessment team should be in Ouagadougou today to determine what level of humanitarian assistance is required.

Other affected West African countries, where heavy rains have caused damage, are Benin, Niger, Ghana, Guinea and Senegal.

U.N. MARKS 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF TIMOR-LESTE REFERENDUM

The

United Nations Mission in Timor-Leste today held a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the announcement of the result of the United Nations-organized Popular Consultation which led to Timor-Leste's independence.

At the ceremony, attended by President Jose Ramos-Horta, 100 Timorese UN staff members who have served the United Nations continuously since 1999 received awards as recognition of their service.

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative, Atul Khare, highlighting the unique nature of the relationship which has developed between the Timorese people and the UN. He added that a great friendship has been developed over the past ten years between Timorese UN staff members, and international staff members as well as UN Volunteers from all over the world.

W.H.O.: SUPPORT NEEDED IN THE PHILIPPINES FOLLOWING CONFLICT, FLOODS

The World Health Organization's representative to the Philippines says that urgent financial and material support is needed to strengthen the health response to recent conflict and flooding in the south and reduce the suffering so many people are facing.

WHO is requesting more than $ 900,000 to ensure the continued provision of health services to the internally displaced people living inside and outside temporary settlements in the conflict-affected regions.

Health services in the camps are now being provided by understaffed and poorly supplied mobile teams. Public health services in communities hosting displaced people have been adversely affected as scant resources have been diverted into camps.

Recent flooding has made matters worse, displacing more people. Local authorities have estimated that around 300,000 people had been affected by monsoons, and more can be expected with the typhoon season approaching.

MAJOR CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS CUTS WILL LEAD TO FASTER ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

reports that faster action on climate change may be possible if nations make significant cuts in carbon dioxide emissions. It will offer a big boost to climate, crops and human health. UNEPs Executive Director Achim Steiner says, It is clear that the world must deploy all available means to combat climate change. At this critical juncture, every transformative measure and substance contributing to climate change should not be overlooked.

Also, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) are

stepping up their collaboration on climate and weather data. Severe weather that is brought on by climate change has a direct impact on food security. Their partnership will offer more information for WFP to help fight hunger worldwide.

DEPUTY JOINT SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE APPOINTED FOR DARFUR

The Secretary-General and the African Union Chairperson, Jean Ping, today appointed Mohamed Yonis of Somalia as Deputy Joint Special Representative for Operations and Management in the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).

Currently serving as Director of Mission Support in UNAMID, Mr. Yonis brings to his new post extensive management and operational experience, particularly in relation to Darfur.

He succeeds Hocine Medili of Algeria. The Secretary-General is grateful to Mr. Medili for his tireless dedication and invaluable service to the United Nations over the past thirty-seven years.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO ITALY

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro will travel to Rome, Italy, this Monday to deliver the keynote address at a ministerial-level international conference on violence against women. This conference is being held under the auspices of the Italian G8 Presidency.

The Deputy Secretary-General will speak about the UNs work to end violence against women and girls. And shell highlight the Secretary-Generals UNiTE Campaign, which calls on world leaders to launch national campaigns aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls in all parts of the world.

During her visit, the Deputy Secretary-General will hold bilateral meetings with the Italian Foreign Minister and Italys Minister for Equal Opportunity. The Deputy Secretary-General will also travel to the Vatican to meet with Pope Benedict XVI.

She will also meet with staff from the Rome-based UN Agencies, including the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

The Deputy Secretary-General will return to New York on Friday, 11 September.

U.N. RELIEF AND WORKS AGENCY REJECTS ANY DENIAL OF THE HOLOCAUST

Asked whether the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the near East (UNRWA) has engaged in denial of the Holocaust, the Spokeswoman asserted that UNRWA rejects any denial of the Holocaust as an historical event.

She said that UNRWA implements a programme on human rights, conflict resolution and tolerance in its schools in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. In Gaza, UNRWA is strengthening this programme by developing a dedicated human rights curriculum anchored in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. UNRWA, she said, is committed to human rights education.

Asked about criticism of senior UNRWA officials by the Simon Weisenthal Center, Okabe said that the senior officials are ably carrying out their jobs in providing assistance to the Palestinian people.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERALS VIEWS ON D.P.R.K. ISSUE ARE CLEAR: Asked about the Secretary-Generals response to the letter sent to the Security Council by the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General has repeatedly made clear his views concerning the need for a diplomatic solution to the DPRK nuclear issue.

BAN KI-MOON, QUARTET OPPOSE FURTHER SETTLEMENTS: Asked about Israeli settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory, the Spokeswoman noted the Secretary-Generals position against further settlement activity, as well as the position expressed by the Quartet.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TRANSMITTED IRAQI REQUEST TO SECURITY COUNCIL: Asked about a letter from the Prime Minister of Iraq asking for an investigation into recent bombings there, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General has transmitted the letter to the President of the Security Council, and it is up to the Security Council to decide how to move forward.

LETTER ON SWITZERLAND WITHDRAWN: Asked about a reported letter from Libya concerning the dissolution of Switzerland, the Spokeswoman said it was her understanding that the letter has been withdrawn.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

5 - 11 September 2009

Monday, 7 September

The UN headquarters will be closed today for Labor Day.

Today, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro will travel to Rome, Italy, to deliver the key-note address at a ministerial-level International Conference on Violence against Women. This conference is being held under the auspices of the Italian G8 Presidency.

Today through 18 September, UN Special Rapporteur Margaret Sekaggya will be in Colombia assessing the situation of human rights defenders in the country.

Tuesday, 8 September

Today and tomorrow, the Secretary-General will be in Mexico City where he will open the 62nd Annual Department of Public Information-Non-Governmental Organizations Conference [9-11 September]. The theme of this years Conference is For Peace and Development: Disarm Now!

While in Mexico, the Secretary-General is also expected to meet President Felipe Calderón to discuss issues such as climate change, the Millennium Development Goals and human rights.

Paul Farmer concludes his first official visit to Haiti as the newly appointed Deputy Special Envoy to the country. He started his trip on 4 September.

The guest at the noon briefing will be Janos Pasztor, Director of the Secretary-Generals Climate Change Support Team. He will brief on the preparations for the upcoming High-level Event on Climate [22 September] as well as on other climate change related developments.

At 1.30 p.m. in Room-S226, President of the General Assembly

Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann and Heiner Flassbeck from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) will hold a press conference to launch the 2009 Trade and Development Report. The report will provide extended analysis on issues raised in the UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development (June 2009).

Wednesday, 9 September

The Security Council will hold consultations on the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and 1737 (2006) Committee in the morning and an open debate on the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in the afternoon.

Thursday, 10 September

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Werner Obermeyer from the World Health Organization and Brian Mishara from the International Association for Suicide Prevention will hold a press conference on suicide prevention as guests at the noon briefing.

At 4 p.m. in Room-S226, President of the General Assembly Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann and Joseph Stiglitz, Chairman of the Commission of Experts of the President of the General Assembly on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System, will hold a pre-publication launch of the report of the Commission.

Friday, 11 September

No major events are scheduled for today.

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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