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United Nations Daily Highlights, 10-05-28

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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

BY MARTIN NESIRKY

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, May 28, 2010

[The UN Headquarters in New York will be closed today for Memorial Day. The noon briefing resumes, Tuesday, June 1, 2010]

SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON OPENS ALLIANCE OF CIVILIZATIONS FORUM

In Rio de Janeiro this morning, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

spoke at the opening of the Alliance of Civilizations Forum.

In his speech, he said the mission of the Alliance must go deeper still, with its aims among the most important of the 21st century.

He noted that three-quarters of the worlds conflicts have a cultural dimension and that the process of building inclusive societies must itself be inclusive.

He also stressed the importance of education and the role and potential of youth and said that the challenges of globalization have made the work of the Alliance that much more urgent.

Following the opening of the Forum, the Secretary-General met with Brazils President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and, separately, with other dignitaries attending the event, before departing for Africa, where he'll visit Malawi and Uganda.

SECRETARY-GENERAL STRONGLY CONDEMNS TERRORIST ATTACKS IN PAKISTAN

Asked about the todays attacks in Pakistan, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General strongly condemned the terrorist attacks in Lahore, which reportedly claimed the lives of over 70 people.

He added that the Secretary-General extended his condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government of Pakistan.

UNITED NATIONS PAYS TRIBUTE TO PEACEKEEPERS' WORK AND SACRIFICES

The United Nations today celebrated the dedication and courage of the men and women who play an indispensable role in the cause of peace around the world, while honoring the sacrifices of those who paid the ultimate price in that service.

The Secretary-General, in a

message for the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, paid tribute to the more than 122,000 military, police and civilian personnel who serve with distinction in UN operations across the world.

Peacekeeping is an indispensable part of the UNs work for a better world, he said. Let us give it the support it needs to succeed.

At a wreath-laying ceremony at UN headquarters, the Deputy Secretary-General

thanked the peacekeepers serving in operations around the world, saying You are keeping the United Nations promise: to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MISSION IN THE D.R. CONGO FOR A YEAR UNDER NEW NAME

The

Security Council this morning adopted resolution 1925, by which it decided to extend the mandate of

MONUC until 30 June 2010.

Council members also decided that, in view of the new phase that has been reached in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Nations mission in that country, MONUC, shall, as from 1 July 2010, bear the title of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).

The Council authorized that MONUSCO shall comprise, in addition to the appropriate civilian, judiciary and correction components, a maximum of 19,815 military personnel, 760 military observers, 391 police personnel and 1,050 personnel of formed police units.

It also authorizes the withdrawal of up to 2,000 United Nations military personnel by 30 June 2010 from areas where the security situation permits; and authorizes MONUSCO, while concentrating its military forces in the east of the country, to keep a reserve force capable of redeploying rapidly elsewhere in the country.

SRI LANKA GROUP OF EXPERTS TO ADVISE SECRETARY-GENERAL

ON HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITMENTS MADE BY GOVERNMENT

Asked about the establishment of a Group of Experts on Sri Lanka by the Secretary-General, the spokesperson said that the process was moving forward. We are in the process of choosing the panel members and once that has been completed we will make an announcement, he added.

Nesirky noted that the role of the panel will be to advise the Secretary-General, based on international standards and experiences, on implementation of the commitments the government made in the area of human rights accountability during the visit of the Secretary-General to Sri Lanka a year ago. He added that one of the key points that was emphasized at the time was the importance of an accountability process to address allegations of violations of international humanitarian law committed during the final stages of the conflict. The Spokesperson also said that the President of Sri Lanka agreed to take measures to address these grievances.

In response to a question on the International Crisis Group report on Sri Lanka, Nesirky said that the United Nations and the Secretary-General personally made energetic efforts in the months before the end of the conflict to protect the lives of civilians trapped in the conflict zone and to facilitate a speedy and humane end to the conflict in order to save lives. Unfortunately, none of the appeals and efforts were heeded and a high number of civilians were killed, which was unacceptable, he added.

The Spokesperson also noted that the Secretary-General strongly believed that there should be a serious and credible accountability process for human rights violations alleged to have been committed by both sides to the conflict. He said the Secretary-General has been very actively pursuing that, based on the commitment made by President Rajapaksa.

Asked about UN staffed being pulled out of civilian areas, specifically, Kilinochi, Nesirky said that UN staff were only pulled out from certain areas when security conditions became untenable, but that those decisions are never taken lightly.

He added that with regard to the camps, the aim of the United Nations, as always, was to help people who needed help, while continually pressing for people to be speedily released. We set conditions for our aidno permanent camps or housingand fought hard for---and eventually achieved---freedom of access and freedom of movement for those in the camps, he said.

SOMALIA: MORE THAN 17,000 PEOPLE DISPLACED IN CAPITAL THIS MONTH

The UN refugee agency

reports that more than 17,000 people have been displaced from their homes in the Somali capital Mogadishu in May.

Over 14,300 fled in the past two weeks alone, following renewed, heavy fighting between the Transitional Federal Government troops, supported by the African Union Peace Keeping Force (AMISOM), and armed opposition groups.

An estimated 200,000 Somalis have been displaced since the beginning of the year.

The number of displaced families, living in the streets of Mogadishu in extreme conditions is gradually increasing, according to reports from UNHCR partners. Many families are in desperate situations, stuck in the embattled city. They cannot afford transport to the makeshift camps just 15 kilometres west of Mogadishu.

Somalia is one of the countries generating the highest number of forcefully displaced in the world. An estimated 1.4 million Somalis are displaced within the country, while more than 580,000 live as refugees in the neighboring countries.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF TRAVELS TO DARFUR TOMORROW

On the second day of his four-day visit to Sudan, Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for

Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes continued his visit of Southern Sudan, reviewing projects in Wau town and traveling to the Southern Sudan capital of Juba for meetings with Vice-President Riek Machar and representatives of the United Nations and non-governmental organizations working in Southern Sudan.

The international community needs to be on alert that there is a serious crisis here, said Mr. Holmes. If we can react in time and act together, we can prevent a crisis from turning into a real disaster, but these efforts need more funding behind them.

Tomorrow, the Under-Secretary-General travels to the Darfur region, where he will visit a settlement for displaced people and meet Government officials and UN agencies and NGOs working in South Darfur. Then in El Fasher he will meet the head of the United NationsAfrica Union mission (UNAMID) and UN and NGOs in North Darfur.

SOME 3,500 GHANAIANS HAVE FLED TO TOGO AFTER VIOLENT LAND DISPUTE

A violent land dispute between the two villages in northeastern Ghana forced some 3,500 Ghanaians to flee their homes and cross into neighboring Togo since 18 April, according to UNHCR.

A first

UNHCR emergency aid convoy left from Accra yesterday morning loaded with blankets, mats and cooking sets. Another convoy will leave in the next few days. The assistance they carry will meet the needs of these refugees for the next three months.

This is not the first time the Ghanaian villagers cross into neighboring Togo seeking safety and shelter. In early March some 300 Ghanaians fled to Togo due to the same land dispute, but returned home within a few weeks. This time however, refugees claim they have lost everything and have expressed concern in returning for the moment.

W.F.P. WARNS OF GROWING NEEDS IN EASTERN SAHEL REGION

The World Food Programme (WFP) today

warned of growing needs in the Eastern Sahel region of West Africa, where some 10 million people are facing a challenging season of hunger before the next harvest due in September.

WFP says that the Sahel is one of the most destitute regions in the world and the spectre of hunger is pushing increasing numbers of people from the countryside into cities where they are searching for food to feed their families.

It adds that despite efforts by governments, humanitarian agencies and non-governmental organizations, the situation in Sahel regions of eastern Mali, northern Cameroon, Chad and Niger is critical and more contributions are urgently needed to ease the suffering of the 3.6 million drought victims

WFP is planning to assist.

W.H.O. CALLS FOR THE PROTECTION OF WOMEN AND GIRLS FROM TOBACCO USE

In observance of World No Tobacco Day 2010, ON 31 May, the World Health Organization (WHO) is

urging global action to protect women and girls against the sickness and suffering caused by tobacco use.

"The trends in some countries are extremely worrisome," said WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. "Tobacco use is neither liberating nor glamorous. It is addictive and deadly."

This years campaign theme, Gender and tobacco with an emphasis on marketing to women, focuses on the harmful effects of tobacco marketing towards women and girls.

Women are a major target for the tobacco industry in its effort to recruit new users to replace those who will quit or die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases. The leading preventable cause of death, tobacco use kills more than five million people every year, about 1.5 million of whom are women.

The international launch of

World No Tobacco Day 2010 will take place on 31 May in Tokyo, Japan.

  • ** The guests at the Noon briefing were Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and Susana Malcorra, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, who briefed on the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.

    THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

    Saturday 29 May/Sunday 30 May

    Today and tomorrow, the Secretary-General will be in Lilongwe, Malawi, where he will meet the President, address the Parliament and visit a Millennium Village in the country.

    Monday, 31 May

    The Secretary-General will be in Kampala, Uganda, to attend the Review Conference of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

    Today is World No-Tobacco Day.

    The UN Headquarters in New York will be closed today for Memorial Day.

    Tuesday, 1 June

    The Secretary-General will be in Nice, France, to participate in the France-Africa Summit.

    Mexico will assume the monthly rotating Presidency of the Security Council.

    In Geneva, the Human Rights Council will open its 14th session which will run until 18 June.

    Wednesday, 2 June

    At 12:30 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium, H.E. Mr. Claude Heller, President of the Security Council and Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations, will brief correspondents on the programme of work for the month of June.

    The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, will be in Uganda, starting today and until 5 June.

    In Geneva, the ninety-ninth International Labour Conference will open today and run through 18 June.

    The graduation ceremony for the Class of 2010 of the United Nations International School (UNIS) will take place at 3:00 pm on in the General Assembly Hall.

    Thursday, 3 June

    In Geneva, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Philip Alston, will hold a press conference on his six years in this post, and review the strengths and weaknesses of the system as he has encountered them. He will be presenting country reports on Colombia, the DRC, Brazil and the CAR, in addition to the findings of new studies on targeted killings, police accountability, and election violence.

    At 5 p.m., in Conference Room 4 (NLB), the 2010 winners of the United Nations Population Award -- William Henry Gates III and Melinda French Gates (represented by William H. Gates, Sr., Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) and the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (represented by Yasuo Fukuda, former Prime Minister of Japan) -- will receive their medals at an official ceremony hosted by the Deputy Secretary-General and Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of UNFPA.

    Today and tomorrow, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Sha Zukang, will travel to Helsinki where he will participate in the High-level Symposium of the 2010 Development Cooperation Forum.

    Friday, 4 June

    At 12:00 p.m., John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, will be the guest at the noon briefing and will brief correspondents on his recent mission to Chad and Sudan.

    Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

    United Nations, SA-1B15

    New York, NY 10017

    Tel. 212-963-7162

    Fax. 212-963-7055


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