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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-10-30

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MICHELE MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, October 30, 2009

BAN KI-MOON PAYS TRIBUTE TO STAFF KILLED IN KABUL

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this morning paid

tribute in a UN town hall meeting to the UN staff members who were killed in an attack on a guest house in

Afghanistan on Wednesday:

Jossie Esto, was a Philippina volunteer who worked for the UN Development Programme election team;

Lewis Maxwell, was a close protection officer from the United States;

Lawrence Mefful, was a UN security officer from Ghana;

Lydia Wonwene, was a UNDP volunteer elections officer from Liberia;

These dedicated staff members were killed in helping the Afghan people.

To these 4 names, we must add one other person, whose identity still needs to be confirmed.

A moment of silence was held in memory of the five dead staff.

The Secretary-General said that the United Nations is urgently reviewing the security environment throughout Afghanistan.

He is exploring the feasibility of bringing in additional security units to guard UN facilities and guest houses.

Also, the United Nations will be consolidating its staff now scattered among many different locations and may suggest that personnel not directly engaged in critical duties be re-located over the coming weeks.

A senior UN official will travel to Kabul to express sympathy and solidarity with the staff.

This afternoon, the Secretary-General will brief the General Assembly and ask for rapid action on the UN security budget.

He noted at the town hall meeting that, so far this year, 27 civilian personnel have lost their lives to violence, more than half of them in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But he stressed his determination to carry out the UNs work, saying, Let us remember. Let us honour. And let us continue.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals meeting with the Chief Executives Board (CEB) that comprises the main officials of the UN system, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-general met with them this morning and discussed among other issues the security situation for UN staff worldwide, and how the United Nations can better face those challenges. She noted that the CEB meeting will continue into Saturday.

Asked about the firefight that took place at the guest house, the Spokeswoman conceded that the United Nations was taken aback that it took more than an hour for reinforcements to arrive, with UN security guards having to fight off the attackers during that time. The Afghan guards at the guest house had been killed at the start of the attack, she added.

She said that the United Nations was seeking an explanation for why it took so long for the outside reinforcements to come.

Montas noted that the Secretary-General had received a phone call on Thursday from Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the issue of better protection of UN staff was raised.

Asked why the United Nations has been perceived by some groups as an enemy, Montas said that the United Nations has been thinking about this shift for some time, and has explored that topic in the past, including in the recent report by Lakhdar Brahimi following the Algiers bombing in 2007. Those discussions are ongoing. She declined to specify changes in security in response to the new threats.

HEROISM OF U.N. SECURITY OFFICERS IN KABUL PRAISED IN SECURITY COUNCIL

The Secretary-General briefed the

Security Council on Afghanistan yesterday afternoon, and he

said afterward that he had told Council members about the heroism of the security officers of the

UN Mission there.

For at least an hour, and perhaps more, they held off the attackers, fighting through the corridors of the building and from the rooftop, giving their colleagues time to escape.

The Secretary-General said that the purpose of his briefing was to assess the situation in Afghanistan and put in place more effective protections for UN staff as they perform their crucial tasks.

He told the Security Council that the United Nations is considering a number of immediate short-term measures, including the consolidation of UN staff in Kabul and around the country.

The Security Council then adopted a

Presidential Statement, expressing its strong condemnation of the 28 October terrorist attack.

The Council stressed the need to ensure the security of UN staff and its support to this end. It expressed support for the measures already taken by the Secretary-General in this regard and looks forward to the further detailed proposals by him.

Over the weekend, Viet Nams Security Council Presidency will end, and Austria will take over the rotating Presidency of the Council for the month of November.

HONDURAS: BAN KI-MOON ENCOURAGED BY POLITICAL AGREEMENT

We have a

statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Honduras:

The Secretary-General is encouraged by news from Tegucigalpa that an agreement was reached last night between President Zelaya and the de facto authorities in Honduras to resolve the countrys political crisis. He hopes Honduras is now on the path to the full restoration of democratic, constitutional rule.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SETS UP PROBE INTO GUINEA KILLINGS

We have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson of the Secretary-General on the establishment of the International Commission of Inquiry on Guinea:

As announced on 16 October, the Secretary-General has decided to

establish an international Commission of Inquiry to investigate the facts and circumstances of the events of 28 September 2009 and related events in their immediate aftermath in Conakry, Republic of Guinea.

The international Commission will comprise three members: Mr. Mohamed Bedjaoui of Algeria, as Chairman; Ms. Françoise Ngendahyo Kayiramirwa of Burundi and Ms. Pramila Patten of Mauritius.

Mr. Bedjaoui is an Algerian diplomat and jurist. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and as Algerias Ambassador to France and the United Nations, among other postings. He has also served as a Judge on the International Court of Justice and as President of Algerias highest judicial authority, the Constitutional Council.

Ms. Kayiramirwa is a former Minister of National Solidarity, Human Rights and Gender and former Minister for Repatriation, Reintegration of Repatriates and Internally Displaced People. She has also served with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda as Adviser on gender issues and assistance to victims.

Ms. Patten is a member of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. She has published extensively in the area of violence against women and the rights of children. She is a barrister at law.

The three members of the Commission are expected to travel shortly to New York to meet with the Secretary-General, and will then travel to Geneva and Guinea to carry out their work. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will provide support to the Commission.

SUDAN-DARFUR: POLITICAL AGREEMENT VITAL FOR PEACE AND SECURITY

The lack of a sustained commitment from all the parties to the Darfur conflict in Sudan to achieve a political agreement remains a major challenge to bring peace and stability to Darfur. This is one of the key messages delivered by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Alain Le Roy, when he addressed a summit of the African Union Peace and Security Council in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, yesterday.

Le Roy stressed that a political agreement for Darfur is also necessary in view of the national elections scheduled for April 2010. But Le Roy warns that a political solution cannot be imposed. It must be negotiated with serious concessions from all sides in order to achieve concrete solutions to concrete problems.

Le Roy stated that the United Nations would be reviewing the report of the AUs High Level Panel on Darfur, chaired by former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, especially in the areas concerning the AU-UN Mission in Darfur and the joint mediation efforts of the two organisations.

LEBANON: RECENT ROCKET INCIDENTS COULD CAUSE CONFLICT

Michael Williams, the

UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, met today with Ammar Moussawi, the head of the International Relations Department of Hizbullah. He said afterward that the United Nations remains very concerned by the incidents that have taken place in south Lebanon, including the firing of a rocket from the village of Houla and also the Israeli counter-fire on the same village.

Williams warned that there is concern that recent incidents could easily destabilize the situation in southern Lebanon and increase the threat of potential conflict.

Yesterday, he met with the leader of the Lebanese Forces, Dr. Samir Geagea. He said afterward that they discussed the formation of a new government and the delay that this process has faced since the parliamentary elections on June 7, now almost five months ago.

Asked about a possible change in the force commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the Spokeswoman said that the matter is being discussed among the countries contributing troops to that Force.

DISPLACED YEMENI CIVILIANS KILLED AS CONFLICT RAGES IN THE NORTH

An unknown number of displaced

Yemeni civilians have been killed and wounded during an exchange of fire in northern Yemen yesterday, the UN refugee agency reports.

UNHCR says it is shocked and saddened by the latest reports of the loss of life and indiscriminate targeting of Yemeni civilians forced to flee their homes.

As the conflict enters the fourth month with no signs of abating, the latest incident adds urgency to UNHCRs repeated appeals for a ceasefire and opening of humanitarian corridors in northern Yemen. Those steps would allow civilians to leave the conflict zone and enable humanitarian workers to deliver much needed aid to thousands of IDPs in this remote part of the country.

Civilians, including some 35,000 IDPs, in and around the city of Saada remain trapped by the fighting and are unable to reach safer parts of the country.

UNHCR is also calling on Saudi authorities to offer safe shelter and assistance to vulnerable displaced Yemenis who may seek refuge across the border as they flee the heavy fighting in northern Yemen.

KEY MILESTONE IN BURUNDIAN-TANZANIAN REFUGEE SAGA

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, reports that today marks an important milestone in its efforts to end one of the longest-running refugee sagas in the world, with the return home of 400

Burundian refugees who fled to Tanzania in 1972.

The returnees are scheduled to leave Katumba, one of the so-called Old Settlements in western Tanzania, today, marking the end of a year-and-a-half-long voluntary repatriation programme.

Since March 2008, UNHCR has been working with the Tanzanian government in helping the refugees to return home. Under the same programme, 162,000 Burundian refugees have applied for Tanzanian citizenship and 29,000 have naturalized since August. The Tanzanian government aims to complete the process by the end of the year for the remaining applicants.

With the gradual return of peace in Burundi, more than half a million Burundian refugees have returned home, including more than 430,000 from camps in Tanzania.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TRAVELS NEXT WEEK TO LEBANON AND ETHIOPIA

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro will be in Beirut early next week to chair the 13th Regional Coordination Mechanism meeting. The meeting is convened by the Economics and Social Commission for Western Asia. Discussions will focus on enhancing collaboration amongst UN system organizations to produce results more effectively and efficiently. While in Lebanon, the Deputy Secretary-General is expected to meet with national and regional authorities.

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From Beirut, the Deputy Secretary-General will proceed to Addis Ababa later next week where she will chair another Regional Coordination Mechanism meeting, this time convened by the Economic Commission for Africa. As in Beirut, discussions will consider how the comparative advantages of different components of the UN family can be mobilized more effectively to deliver results for the Member States. While in Addis Ababa, the Deputy Secretary-General is expected to meet with national and regional authorities, as well as representatives of the African Union Commission and the New Economic Partnership for African Development or NEPAD.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

MORE THAN 95 PERCENT OF UN FORCE IN DR CONGO IS FOCUSED IN THE EAST: Asked about reports that 47 police have been killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Spokeswoman said that the UN Mission there (MONUC) is trying to obtain more information and at this stage can't confirm these casualty figures. She pointed out that this incident occurred in the western DRC, in an area where MONUC has limited presence, as more than 95% of the MONUC force is concentrated in the eastern DRC.

UNITED NATIONS DOES NOT WORK WITH WAR CRIMES SUSPECT IN DR CONGO: Asked about reports that the Congolese Armed Forces continue to employ Jean-Bosco Ntaganda, who has been linked to war crimes, the Spokeswoman asserted that the United Nations would not work with Ntaganda in the specific operations it has with the Armed Forces.

NO CHANGE IN RELATIONSHIP EXPECTED WITH UN PEACEKEEPING MISSION IN HAITI: Asked about the no-confidence vote that brought down the Government of Haitian Prime Minister Michele Pierre Louis, the Spokeswoman said that the move was not expected to change the relationship with the UN peacekeeping mission there, MINUSTAH. She said there were legitimate concerns about the move but added that it was a decision taken by the Haitian Senate.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

Saturday, 31 October

Viet Nam ends its month-long presidency of the Security Council today.

Sunday, 1 November

Today is the first day of Austrias presidency of the Security Council.

Monday, 2 November

Today through Friday, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro will be in Beirut and Addis Ababa to attend two Regional Coordination Mechanism meetings.

She is expected to meet national and regional authorities in both cities.

From 3 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. in the Economic and Social Council Chamber, there will be a special briefing at the ambassadorial level on Copenhagen 2009: The fierce urgency of now. The briefing is organized by the Division for Sustainable Development at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat meet today under UN auspices in Nicosia to continue their talks on the issue of property.

The Committee against Torture and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will hold their 43rd session from 2 to 20 November in Geneva.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF will launch a Global Action Plan to prevent and control pneumonia.

Tuesday, 3 November

The Secretary-General is scheduled to be at Windsor Castle, in the United Kingdom, where he plans to deliver a keynote address at a gathering of religious leaders on the role that faiths can play in tackling climate change.

At 11.45 a.m., Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, will be in Room-S226 to launch the logo for the International Year on Biodiversity (2010).

At 12.30 p.m. in Room-S226, Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Harting, Permanent Representative of Austria and President of the Security Council for November, will brief on the Councils programme of work for the month.

From 1.15 p.m. to 2.30 p.m. in Conference Room 8, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) will brief on the 2009 World Investment Report.

Wednesday, 4 November

Today and tomorrow, the Secretary-General will be in Athens, Greece, for an official visit. While there, he will help open the 3rd Global Forum on Migration and Development. He is also expected to address the Greek Parliament.

Thursday, 5 November

Today and tomorrow, the 4th World Science Forum, organized by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in partnership with UNESCO and the International Council for Science, will take place in Budapest. The theme of the forum is Knowledge and Future.

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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