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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-12-28

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

ARCHIVES

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

There are no noon briefings planned until January 4, 2010.

Developments within the UN system will be posted daily on this website daily throughout this period.

Monday, December 28, 2009

AFGHANISTAN: WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME IS DISTRESSED OVER KILLING OF STAFF MEMBER

The World Food Programme said it was deeply distressed to learn that one of its staff members was amongst the innocent victims of the suicide bombing in the southern city of Kandahar on Thursday 24 December. The remains of the slain WFP security guard were identified by a relative on Sunday. For his familys protection, his identity is not being released.

I am shocked and saddened by this terrible loss, said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues of this dedicated man whose courage and commitment have contributed to our ability to provide food assistance to the hungry in southern Afghanistan.

The victim was a 24-year-old Afghan national who began working with WFP in July as a warehouse security guard.

He was among the eight people killed when a suicide bomber detonated explosives concealed in a horse-drawn cart in central Kandahar on the evening of 24 December. Three Afghan civilians and a police officer were wounded in the blast.

TOP REFUGEE OFFICIAL IS DISMAYED AT THAI DEPORTATION OF LAO HMONG

The High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, expressed his dismay today at Thailand's deportation of Lao Hmong. "I call upon the Thai Government to halt the forced return of the Lao Hmong, some of whom have international protection needs, he said.

This morning Thailand began deporting the first group of an estimated 4000 Lao Hmong from the Huay Nam Khao camp in Petchabun, to whom UNHCR has not been granted access. The deportations will continue over the coming days and, as announced by the Thai Government, will include a second group of 158 recognized refugees held in detention in Nong Kai.

On Thursday, the High Commissioner issued an appeal to the Thai Government not to go ahead with its planned returns of Lao Hmong. In his statement he noted that the refoulement, or forced return, would "not only endanger the protection of the refugees but set a very grave international example.

UNHCR urges Thailand to halt the deportations to allow time for solutions of voluntary return and third country resettlement in a manner that respects the cardinal international principle of non-refoulement, or no forced return.

GAZA: BAN KI-MOON SOUNDS WARNING OVER UNRESOLVED ISSUES

On the first anniversary of the launch of a three-week Israeli military offensive in Gaza, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is deeply concerned that neither the issues that led to the conflict nor its worrying aftermath have been addressed.

Very few of the key elements for stability, as identified in Security Council resolution 1860, have been implemented, according to the statement issued on Sunday. While violence has been at lower levels this year, incidents continue and there is no durable ceasefire in place.

The quality and quantity of humanitarian supplies entering Gaza is insufficient, broader economic and reconstruction activity is paralyzed, and the people of Gaza are denied basic human rights. Efforts are being made to combat illicit trafficking of weapons, but smuggling continues. Egypt has tirelessly worked for Palestinian unity, but without a breakthrough so far.

There is a sense of hopelessness in Gaza today for 1.5 million Palestinians, half of whom are under eighteen. Their fate and the well-being of Israelis are intimately connected.

A fundamentally different approach to Gaza is urgently required. The Secretary-General calls on Israel to end the unacceptable and counterproductive blockade of Gaza, facilitate economic activity and civilian reconstruction, and fully respect and uphold international law. He calls on Hamas to bring an end to violence and fully respect and uphold international law. The Secretary-General also calls on all Palestinians to work for unity and elections within the framework of the legitimate Palestinian Authority.

Today's anniversary is a reminder of the bitter consequences of the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to which there is and can be no military solution. The urgent priority of all Israeli and Palestinian leaders, the region, and the international community as a whole must be the achievement of a two State solution.

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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