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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-11-23
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, November 23, 2009
REMAINS OF DISAPPEARED U.N. WORKER IDENTIFIED IN LEBANON
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been
informed that the remains of Alec Collett, who was on assignment for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and disappeared in Lebanon in 1985, have been found in eastern Lebanon.
The Secretary-General appreciates the role played by the relevant authorities in the United Kingdom and in Lebanon to resolve this matter after so many years. He is grateful for the work done by the Department of Safety and Security in helping to determine what happened to Mr. Collett. Although he is saddened by Alec Colletts death, he hopes that the actions taken to find his remains can provide a measure of comfort to his loved ones.
The Secretary-General expresses his sincere sympathies to Alec Colletts family and would like to restate the commitment of the United Nations to assist them in the days ahead.
BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES EASING OF RESTRICTIONS ON SRI LANKANS IN CAMPS FOR DISPLACED
The Secretary-General, in a statement issued over the weekend, welcomes the decision by the Government of Sri Lanka to grant increased freedom of movement to internally displaced persons (IDPs) still residing in camps in northern Sri Lanka.
The Secretary-General also welcomes the release of over half of the IDPs from the camps, and encourages the Government to continue to prioritize the return of IDPs. These are steps which the UN has long been pressing for in its intensive engagement with the authorities in Sri Lanka, including during the Secretary-Generals own visit in May.
The Secretary-General urges the Government of Sri Lanka to continue to work with the UN and other humanitarian partners to improve the quality of the returns process, including through consultation with the IDPs themselves, and to ensure the best possible assistance and services to returnees.
MAJORITY OF WEST BANK OFF-LIMITS FOR PALESTINIAN USE AND DEVELOPMENT
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today issued an
update on movement and access issues in the West Bank.
According to that report, over the past six months, the Israeli authorities have taken measures that have increased the freedom of movement of Palestinians between most Palestinian urban centers in the West Bank.
But during the same period, there has been no significant improvement when it comes to access to land and use of space by Palestinians. For example, one particular area, which comprises sixty percent of the West Bank, has remained, to a large extent, off-limits for Palestinian use and development.
DARFUR MISSION IS HAMPERED BY SERIOUS CHALLENGES INCLUDING THREATS TO STAFF
Available today is the Secretary-Generals latest
report on the African Union United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) released today.
The report, which covers the period between July and October this year, details progress on the implementation of UNAMIDs mandate as well as efforts on the political process and progress on the security and humanitarian situation.
In the report, the Secretary-General notes that though UNAMID continues to focus on its critical tasks of civilian protection and facilitation of humanitarian delivery, the missions work has been hampered by a number of serious challenges. These include increased threats to international staff in Darfur, ongoing military activities between Chad and Sudan and within Darfur, and the absence of a comprehensive negotiated settlement to the Darfur crisis.
UNAMID personnel continue to be the target of criminal activity and banditry, including harassment and violent attacks, according to the report. One extremely alarming development is the kidnapping of international staff serving in Darfur, including two UNAMID staff members who were kidnapped on 29 August and are still being held by their captors.
The report further notes that the political process for Darfur has reached a critical juncture. The Secretary-General urges all parties to the Darfur conflict to use the current opportunity offering by the Doha Talks to re-engage with the peace process in good faith, so that a sustainable peace could be achieved for all Darfurians.
In response to questions, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the continued lack of key military enablers and force multipliers, including two medium transport units, a level II hospital, an aerial reconnaissance unit, and 18 medium utility helicopters, continues to be a source of serious concern for UNAMID. This has negatively affected the Missions ability to discharge fully its mandate by limiting monitoring and verification activities, hindering quick reaction capability and curtailing the Missions logistical and medical services, she added.
MORE THAN 150 EX-COMBATANTS TAKE PART IN DEMOBILIZATION AND REINTEGRATION PROGRAM
The United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)
reports that more than 150 ex-combatants have taken part in the first of a three-day demobilization and reintegration programme sponsored by the Government of Sudan and supported by UNAMID.
The programme involves briefings on reintegration, verification of administrative documents, medical and disability screening, fingerprinting, and the issuance of identification cards. Participants are given a cash payment of 400 Sudanese Pounds ($150 USD), and after two months they will be issued food vouchers and other basic amenities.
In all, more than 400 ex-combatants from North Darfur are expected to be demobilized in El Fasher alone. Two additional demobilization and reintegration events are scheduled for West and South Darfur shortly.
SUDAN: U.N. ENVOY CONCERNED BY PRESENCE OF CHILDREN IN ARMED GROUPS
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, has expressed concern about the presence of children amongst Sudans non-State armed groups and the association of some children within the Sudan Armed Forces.
Coomaraswamy was speaking at the end of nine-day trip to Sudan, where she
visited Khartoum, El-Fasher and El-Geneina in Darfur, as well as Juba, Yambio and Bor in Southern Sudan.
She welcomed the signing of an action plan by the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) to end the use of children as soldiers in Juba on 20 November 2009.
Coomaraswamy also commends the Government of National Unity for the progress made in the last two years to strengthen the protection of children.
She also welcomed the fact that silence around sexual violence has been broken and can be spoken about more openly. The Special Representative calls upon the Government to adopt as a matter of urgency, a comprehensive national strategy to combat gender-based violence that includes prevention, accountability and response.
BAN KI-MOON HIGHLIGHTS NEED TO EXAMINE & UPDATE U.N.S PEACEMAKING ARCHITECTURE & TOOLS
The Secretary-General spoke by teleconference with his special and personal representatives and envoys, who are meeting in a seminar in Mont Pelerin, Switzerland.
He told the gathered officials that he is keenly aware of the need to constantly examine and update the UNs peacemaking architecture, mechanisms, technologies and toolkit. That effort, he added, must encompass the full range of what we do, including conflict prevention, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding.
The Secretary-General stressed that he is committed to filling vacancies, speeding up the appointment process and ensuring that there are no leadership vacuums. And he remains determined to pursue investigations into sexual abuse and other infractions with all due haste, given the cloud these can cast over a mission.
This afternoon, the Secretary-General will speak at the presentation of the recommendations of the Commission on Effective Development Cooperation with Africa, chaired by Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen. He will say that the reports recommendations are far-reaching and could help to lift millions of people out of poverty.
U.N. AGENCIES HELP CONFLICT SURVIVORS IN YEMEN
As of 14 November, the World Food Programme (WFP) and its implementing partners in
Yemen had distributed 2,065 metric tons of food to more than 100,000 people. The November food distribution cycle will be completed in all districts prior to the Eid holidays.
Meanwhile, as of last Monday, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees distribution of basic supplies through partners has benefited more than 5,000 families in three governorates in northern Yemen.
The water supply in Al-Mazrak area, in the Hajjah Governorate, is maintained at 20 litres per person per day. UNICEF provided four additional water tanks in the new blocks of the camp, and four outside the camp, while work to improve water distribution, disinfection and quality monitoring in the camp is ongoing. In Al-Mazrak Camp, meanwhile, Oxfam and UNICEF have constructed 900 latrines.
Asked about the situation in Yemen following recent fighting involving Saudi forces, the Deputy Spokesperson said that UN agencies, with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in the lead, were working to provide humanitarian assistance on the ground and trying to obtain access to people displaced by the fighting. The Secretary-General, she noted, continues to monitor the situation, on which he has expressed his views.
WESTERN SAHARA: BAN KI-MOON CONCERNED BY GROWING TENSION BETWEEN NEGOTIATING PARTIES
[In response to questions asked earlier, the Deputy Spokesperson issued a note to correspondents after the briefing that the Secretary-General is concerned by the growing tension between the parties to the Western Sahara negotiations, which has increased following the recent detention of several groups of Saharawi activists and the situation of Aminatou Haidar. He has responded in writing to letters received from the Frente Polisario in this regard.
The Secretary-General has urged both parties to continue to cooperate with his Personal Envoy, Mr. Christopher Ross, in seeking to schedule another set of talks and to work together to achieve progress toward a mutually agreed political solution.
Regarding the human dimension of the conflict, the Secretary-General has reiterated his call to the parties to remain engaged with the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.]
ISRAEL-LEBANON: U.N. ATTACHES SPECIAL IMPORTANCE TO ISSUE OF GHAJAR
Asked about reports that Israeli forces might withdraw from the Lebanese part of the town of Ghajar, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations does not have any official notification from the Israeli Government on the matter, although it has seen media reports in this regard today.
Okabe said that this is a longstanding matter and our position is very clear: that Israel is obliged to withdraw from northern Ghajar and the adjacent area north of the Blue Line, in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1701.
She said that the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is in contact with the Israelis and hopes for a speedy solution on the basis of UNIFILs proposal that was submitted to the parties in order to facilitate Israeli Defense Force withdrawal from the area.
The United Nations attaches special importance to this issue, the Spokeswoman asserted. An understanding on the proposal would facilitate implementation of resolution 1701 and would greatly contribute to confidence building in the area.
U.N. OFFICIAL SIGNS PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS WITH REPUBLIC OF KOREA
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark and the Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in Seoul today,
signed two landmark agreements which underpin a new relationship between UNDP and the Republic of Korea.
The first was to establish in Seoul a Policy Center on Global Development Partnerships, the second to establish a Millennium Development Goal Trust Fund between the South Korean Government and UNDP.
Also during the visit, the first of a three-leg Northeast Asia trip, Clark met with President Lee Myung-bak and various top Government officials.
SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES UP BOSNIA: The Security Council held a meeting this morning on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Among the speakers today was Valentin Inzko, the High Representative and European Union Special Representative in that country.
NUMBER OF RESEARCHERS RISING IN DEVELOPING WORLD: The number of researchers in developing countries is
rising, according to a new study by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Their number jumped by 56% in developing countries between 2002 and 2007. UNESCO says that these results indicate that many countries are recognizing the importance of innovation for economic growth.
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