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United Nations Daily Highlights, 10-03-22

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 MARTIN NESIRKY

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, March 22, 2010

SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS ISRAEL, OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY; EMPHASIZES NEED FOR DIRECT TALKS

The Secretary-General returned to New York, having completed his visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory over the weekend.

On Sunday morning, he visited Gaza, where he saw the problems resulting from Israeli closures, which he

said cause unacceptable suffering. He added, however, that the Israeli Government has recently approved a United Nations request for a number of humanitarian projects that will include 150 housing units in Khan Younis, inside the Gaza Strip, an area he actually visited on Sunday. He said this was a first step although he would like to see more.

The Secretary-General also met with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other senior officials on Sunday. At his meeting with the Prime Minister, the Secretary-General

told the press that he believes that proximity talks between the Israelis and Palestinians should lead to direct negotiations between the two concerned parties. He added that he would report to the Security Council about his visits and last Fridays Quartet meeting in Moscow.

On Saturday, he met Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and

told him the UN was committed to work together with the Palestinian people and help their cause to complete negotiations on a settlement of all core issues within 24 months.

Asked about complaints concerning which Palestinians were able to meet the Secretary-General, the Spokesperson said that the visit was extremely even-handed and intense, with the Secretary-General meeting with a wide range of people, including Prime Minister Fayyad and people on the ground in Gaza.

Asked why the Secretary-General did not bring humanitarian aid with him to Gaza, Nesirky noted that the Secretary-General did bring an announcement of five projects that had been agreed to by the Israeli Government, which the United Nations will work to implement as quickly as possible.

Among them, he said, was a housing project in Khan Younis which the Secretary-General described as a welcome first step, although more needs to be done to alleviate suffering in Gaza.

Asked about water projects, given that this is World Water Day, the Spokesperson added that one of the agreed projects was to establish sewage treatment works.

Asked whether the United Nations is biased on the question of the Middle East peace process, Nesirky said, Its not about taking sides. The United Nations, he said, has been working for years to bring the sides together.

The Secretary-General, he emphasized, believes that there is no alternative to direct talks. Proximity talks are not an end in themselves but a route to direct talks.

The Spokesperson added that the Secretary-General, while in Gaza, had spoken about the need for closures to be lifted and for free movement of materials and people there.

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF U.N. MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN UNTIL MARCH 2011

The

Security Council this morning voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) until 23 March 2011.

After that, Council members heard a briefing from Michael von der Schulenberg, the Secretary-Generals Executive Representative for Sierra Leone, about the Secretary-Generals latest report on the country. He spelled out several major challenges, including the need to fight youth unemployment, the problem of illicit drug trafficking in the region, the effort to combat corruption and preparations for the 2012 elections.

The Security Council then continued discussion of Sierra Leone in closed consultations.

DARFUR ENVOY HOLDS PEACE CONSULTATIONS IN PARIS

The Joint Special Representative for the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Ibrahim Gambari, was in Paris this weekend for peace consultations with Abdul Wahid Mohammed Al-Nour, leader of a key splinter group of the Sudanese Liberation Army, a onetime rebel alliance fighting Sudanese Government forces in Darfur.

According to UNAMID, Gambari

encouraged Al-Nour and his alliance to join the peace process. He also asked for greater cooperation on the ground between Al-Nours forces and the UN/AU peacekeepers. Gambari urged Al-Nour to help ease humanitarian agencies access to those in need.

Gambari also met with high-level French Government officials, including the top diplomatic, UN and African affairs advisors to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

On Sunday, Gambari spoke at the International Donors Conference for the Development and Reconstruction of Darfur, which was held in Cairo.

U.N. PEACEKEEPERS PUSHED TO PROVIDE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR SEXUAL ABUSE

Asked about a media article on the challenges in implementing the Secretary-Generals zero tolerance policy concerning sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers, the Spokesperson reiterated that accountability rests with Member States, including the troop contributing countries involved.

Nesirky said that the article flags concerns that the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and of Field Services share, including the need to increase transparency and continue engaging Member States to ensure accountability.

Cases of sexual exploitation and abuse and other misconduct statistics are now shared in a

public website and updated quarterly, the Spokesperson added. Regarding accountability, the Secretary-General and Under-Secretaries-General Alain Le Roy and Susana Malcorra have impressed, and will continue to impress, upon Member States the importance of addressing the issue and combating impunity.

SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES VULNERABILITY OF WATER RESOURCES, ON WORLD WATER DAY

Today is

World Water Day. In a message, the Secretary-General stresses the vulnerability of water resources and says water is connected to all United Nations goals. He

says the world has the know-how to become a better steward of water resources.

This morning, the Deputy Secretary-General opened the General Assemblys High-level Interactive Dialogue on Water. In her

remarks, she also said that the sustainable management of water resources was vital for economic growth, safeguarding essential ecosystems and achieving all the

Millennium Development Goals.

Meanwhile, a new report issued today by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

says that investment in safe water will have high returns in ensuring a healthy ecosystem and human society. According to UNEP, an investment of $20 million in low-cost water technologies, such as drip irrigation and treadle pumps, could lift 100 million poor farming families out of extreme poverty.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS SLUM CONDITIONS ARE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

The fifth World Urban Forum opened today in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In a

message to the Forum, the Secretary-General said that conditions in slums are a violation of human rights. He said that helping slum-dwellers to reclaim their rights will do more than improve the lot of individuals: it will strengthen society as a whole and protect our shared environment.

This years World Urban

Forum will feature open debates and key dialogues addressing sustainable urbanization, governance and participation, the urban divide, cultural diversity, equal access to shelter and taking forward the right to the city.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

HEAD OF U.N.D.P. SAYS DECENT WORK ESSENTIAL TO HUMAN DEVELOPMENT: The Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Helen Clark,

addressed the International Labour Organization (ILO) Working Party on the Social Dimension of Globalization this morning in Geneva. She said that decent work is essential for advancing human development and meeting the

Millennium Development Goals, and that employment-intensive growth is a necessary condition for achieving sustainable growth and poverty reduction.

SPOKESPERSON SAYS ACCESS TO INFORMATION IS A RIGHT: Asked about reports that Voice of America broadcasts may be blocked in Ethiopia, the Spokesperson noted that all people have the right to free access to information, including through radio.

CONTACTS IN AFGHANISTAN AT MISSIONS DISCRETION: Asked about comments made to the BBC by the former Special Representative for

Afghanistan, Kai Eide, the Spokesperson said that Eide expressed a personal view or opinion, on which he had no comment. Asked about possible contacts with the Taliban, Nesirky said that contacts on the ground are at the discretion of the UN Mission and its leadership. At no time was Kai Eide instructed to speak to the Taliban, he added.

SECRETARY-GENERAL REGRETS DEATH OF ORLANDO ZAPATA: In response to questions, the Spokesperson recalled that the Secretary-General has joined others in expressing deep regret over the death of Orlando Zapata in Cuba.

U.N. POLICE PATROLS CAMPS IN HAITI: Asked about reports of sexual violence in camps for displaced people in

Haiti, the Spokesperson said that there were patrols throughout the day and night in those camps, conducted by UN police and the Haitian National Police. He noted that the Secretary-General had spoken on the need to do even more when he visited a camp for displaced people in Haiti recently.

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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