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United Nations Daily Highlights, 10-04-16
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Friday, April 16, 2010
BAN KI-MOON CALLS TO SEIZE CRUCIAL OPPORTUNITY AT END OF CONFLICT
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Security Councils open debate on Post-Conflict Peacebuilding this morning.
He said that we must seize the crucial opportunity after the end of a major conflict. We must respond early and robustly, he said, adding that we must then stay engaged over the long term.
For peace to last, the Secretary-General said that concrete peace dividends had to be delivered, with real benefits in peoples daily lives. He added that peace will not endure unless governments in post-conflict countries are able to perform the basic functions of the State and to ensure sustainable security.
The Secretary-General said that peacebuilding was a complex and multi-faceted undertaking -- requiring significant amounts of human, financial and institutional resources. But the most important tool we can deploy is the political commitment of national and international actors, he said.
SECURITY COUNCIL CANCELS MISSION TO AFRICA
The lead country for the Security Council Mission to Africa, France, in consultations with Council members, has decided to cancel the planned Security Council mission to Africa.
This is due to the unfolding and unforeseen developments relating to the volcanic clouds, which have disrupted international flights in and across Europe.
ASHES FROM ICELAND VOLCANO COULD PRESENT HEALTH RISKS
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that the health risks related to the ashes from Icelands spewing volcano are not known yet. But it adds that the types of particles deposited in the ash from this volcano could be harmful when inhaled, especially for people with asthma or respiratory problems.
WHO says it is studying the situation closely.
The cloud is at present suspended high in the atmosphere and the particles have not begun to settle. When they do, WHO says this could cause an increase in health concerns. At that point, WHO might recommend that people stay indoors as much as possible.
U.N. BOARD OF INQUIRY LOOKING INTO DEATH OF UN STAFF MEMBER IN AFGHANISTAN
Asked about reports that UN security staff member Louis Maxwell may have been killed by Afghan security forces, the Spokesperson said that the relevant UN departments dealing with peacekeeping, field support and security have devoted a great deal of time and energy in addressing this tragic case.
Nesirky recalled that, on 28 October 2009, a private guest house in Kabul where UN personnel were staying was attacked by insurgents equipped with automatic weapons, grenades and suicide bomb vests.
In the ensuing attack and response by Afghan Security forces, five UN personnel were tragically killed. As the attack highlighted that the United Nations had become a specific target in Afghanistan, additional security measures were immediately instituted for all UN operations in the country.
In the aftermath of the attack, Nesirky said, the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) undertook an initial inquiry into the events. Based on their findings, additional assistance from UN headquarters was determined necessary to more fully establish all the facts.
In January the United Nations established a high-level Board of Inquiry to establish the facts and look for lessons learned. The Spokesperson said that the United Nations expects the Board of Inquiry report to be finalized in the coming days and could not comment further at this time.
Asked whether what happened to Maxwell was an execution, the Spokesperson said that the preliminary conclusions of the mission's investigation raised the disturbing possibility that a specific UN staff member may have died due to so-called friendly fire from Afghan security forces. Once the Board of Inquiry is finalized, he said, we will share our findings with the Government of Afghanistan and if warranted we will ask for a thorough investigation surrounding the death of this UN employee and the circumstances of the deaths of the other UN employees.
Asked about a recent case of reported abductions of UN staff, the Spokesperson said that five UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) Afghan staff members are currently unaccounted for. The United Nations is working with the Afghan authorities to ascertain their current whereabouts and the exact circumstances of the situation.
U.N. MISSION IN LEBANON DEPLOYS PATROL TO RESPOND TO INCIDENT AT BLUE LINE
Asked about an incident in southern Lebanon, the Spokesperson said that this morning, at around 10:30 a.m., a group of about 20 Lebanese people, including MP Qassem Hashem, gathered in the area of Abbassiyeh in Sector East near the location of recent Israeli Defense Force (IDF) activities south of the Line of Withdrawal (Blue Line).
At around 1045 a.m., the demonstrators crossed the Line of Withdrawal (Blue Line) and arrived in the area of recent IDF activities, which is located about 50 meters south of the Line of Withdrawal (Blue Line).
The demonstrators removed sign posts of a minefield as well as concertina wire which was laid by the Israel Defense Forces 3 days ago, and placed two Lebanese flags next to the Israeli Technical Fence.
A Lebanese Armed Forces patrol was present at the location of the demonstration. A UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) patrol was also deployed.
Nesirky said that UNIFIL has contacted the parties in order to prevent any escalation of the situation, urging restraint and calling on them to take all the necessary steps in accordance with their obligations under UN Security Council resolution 1701 (2006).
UNIFIL has repeatedly demanded full respect of the Line of Withdrawal as identified by the UN in 2000, he added.
Asked about an earlier incident, he noted that on 13 April, at around 7:20 hours, UNIFIL observed the Israeli army carrying out some works on the Israeli Technical Fence south-east of Abbassiyeh, in the Eastern Sector of UNIFILs area of operations. The site of the works is south of the Line of Withdrawal. At no point during the works in this area did the Israeli army cross the Line of Withdrawal.
He said that the UNIFIL Force Commander, Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas, was in contact with the parties to ensure full respect for UN Security Council resolution 1701 and for the Line of Withdrawal.
UNIFIL and the Lebanese army sent patrols to the area and remained at the location to monitor the situation and the Line of Withdrawal. At around 09:30 hours, the Israeli army withdrew from the area.
HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF URGES END OF EXECUTIONS IN GAZA
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, today
urged the de facto authorities in Gaza not to carry out further executions and to abolish the use of the death penalty. During the night of 14-15 April, two prisoners were executed in Gaza.
Pillay said, It is extremely disappointing that Hamas has now returned to the use of the death penalty, despite the fact that no officially-sanctioned death sentences have been carried out in Gaza since 2000.
The High Commissioner said she was alarmed by unconfirmed reports that several more prisoners may be executed soon. Her office has received information that, on Wednesday, Hamas authorities called the families of a number of individuals sentenced to death, saying that they could make their last visit to their sons.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TRANSMITS BHUTTO COMMISSION REPORT
Yesterday afternoon, the fact-finding Commission of Inquiry that was looking into the 2007 assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto turned in its
report to the Secretary-General. The Secretary-General then transmitted it to the Government of Pakistan, and also, for information purposes, to the Security Council.
The Commissions report says that a range of Pakistani Government officials failed profoundly in their efforts to protect Benazir Bhutto and to investigate with vigour all those responsible for her murder. The Commission added that it believes that the failures of the police and other officials to react effectively to Ms. Bhuttos assassination were, in most cases, deliberate.
The Secretary-General, in a
statement, commended the Commissioners and their staff for completing their challenging task expeditiously and in a professional manner. The duty of carrying out a criminal investigation, finding the perpetrators and bringing them to justice, remains with the competent Pakistani authorities.
U.N. AGENCIES MOBILIZE FOR CHINA EARTHQUAKE RELIEF EFFORTS
Following the earthquake in Yushu, China, the World Health Organization said today the latest situation report so far shows 617 deaths, 9,100 injured and up to 100,000 people needing to relocate to safer places. The estimates of casualties are expected to continue changing in the coming days.
With limited health facilities in the earthquake-stricken region, concerns remain about lack of tents, medical equipment, medicine and medical staff. 60 medical teams with some 1,300 staff had been deployed to the earthquake region with 6 tons of medical materials. WHO is in constant communication with the Chinese Health Emergency Response Office and the Ministry of Health, while WHO representative there are activating disaster management teams.
The United Nations Childrens Fund also expressed deep concern about the impact of the earthquake on the children in the region. According to the latest data, 103 children had been killed and 12 teachers, 684 had been injured, 35 were buried under the debris and 38 were missing. Health and education authorities of the province of Qinghai had asked
UNICEF to mobilize people on an immunization campaign to get the message out and for boots for children, warm clothes, wool covers, tents and prefabricated buildings to set up shelters.
HEAD OF UN OFFICE IN GENEVA TO ATTEND POLISH PRESIDENTS FUNERAL: The Secretary-General has asked Sergei Ordzhonikidze, the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, to represent him at the funeral of the Polish President Lech Kaczynski on Sunday, 18 April, in Poland.
HEAD OF U.N. DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME TO VISIT SAUDI ARABIA AND BAHRAIN: The Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Helen Clark, will arrive in Saudi Arabia today for a two day visit to discuss Saudi Arabias expanding support to global development efforts, particularly its assistance to humanitarian and post-crisis recovery all over the world, including assistance to relief activities following the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004, Chinas earthquake in 2008, and its recent pledge to recovery efforts in Haiti after the recent earthquake. She will meet with King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, King of Saudi tomorrow. She will then go to Bahrain meet King Hamad ibn Isa al-Khalifah and other Bahraini senior officials to discuss human development in the Arab world and to find ways to speed up progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in a country that is leading the way in the region.
SECRETARY-GENERALS EXECUTIVE OFFICE IN CONTACT OVER SECURITY COUNCIL ACCESS: Asked about the access that the Spokespersons Office has to Security Council meetings, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-Generals Executive Office is in contact with the Security Council about that matter.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
Saturday, 17 April
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay will begin a ten-day visit to the six Member States of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). She will visit Saudi Arabia (17-19 April), Qatar (19-20 April), Kuwait (20-21 April), Bahrain (21-23 April), the United Arab Emirates (23-25 April) and Oman (25-26 April).
Monday, 19 April
Today, the General Assembly will hold a thematic debate entitled Disarmament and world security: challenges for the international community and the role of the United Nations, starting at 10 a.m. in Conference Room 2 (NLB).
The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues will hold its ninth session, starting today and until 30 April. The Secretary-General is expected to participate in the opening meeting, which will be held today at 11 a.m. in Conference Room 1 (NLB).
At 11:00 a.m., Mr. Grigol Vashadze, Foreign Minister of Georgia, will brief correspondents in the Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium.
At 1:15 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium, the incoming Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Mr. Carlos Mamani Condori, and Ms. Tonya Gonnella Frichner, North American member of the Permanent Forum, will brief correspondents on the ninth session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and give an update regarding the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The UN independent expert on human rights, water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, will visit Slovenia from starting today and until 23 April.
Tuesday, 20 April
At 12:00 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium, Mr. Carlos Castresana, Commissioner of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) will brief correspondents on the efforts of the Commission. Participants will include Rigoberta Menchu, Nobel Peace Laureate; Eduardo Stein, former Vice-Presidentof Guatemala; and Gonzalo Marroquin, Director, Prensa Libre newspaper and Vice-President of Inter-American Press Association.
Today and tomorrow, the International Ministerial Conference on Animal and Pandemic Influenza will take place in Hanoi.
Starting today, the UN Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty, Magdalena Sepúlveda, will visit Vietnam until 29 April.
Wednesday, 21 April
From 3 to 6 p.m. in Conference Room 2 (NLB), a special event, organized by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, will mark the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures. The Secretary-General is scheduled to deliver opening remarks.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and UNDP Administrator Helen Clark will co-host the Oslo Conference on Armed Violence, a two-day event, aimed at making the reduction of armed violence a top issue on the global development agenda.
Thursday, 22 April
This morning, the Security Council will hold an open debate on the implementation of document S/2006/507 on the Councils work.
This is International Mother Earth Day.
Friday, 23 April
This is World Book and Copyright Day.
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