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United Nations Daily Highlights, 10-06-01

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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 MARIE OKABE

DEPUTY

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

GAZA: BAN KI-MOON IS DISCUSSING WAY FORWARDS WITH LEADERS

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is on his way back to New York after his planned trip to the Africa/France Summit in Nice was cancelled due to an aircraft mechanical failure.

Before leaving Kampala, Uganda, he had a series of phone conversations with world leaders on the situation in Gaza and the aftermath of the Israeli raid on the aid flotilla. The Secretary-General spoke today with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and French President Nicolas Sarkozy as well as his High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

Meanwhile, his Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry has been in close touch with other Quartet representatives in an effort to advance the implementation of the points made in the Security Councils statement issued earlier today this includes ensuring the delivery of humanitarian assistance from the convoy to its destination as called for by the Council. Quartet envoys have also been in close touch to coordinate positions and work together.

The Secretary-General is on his way back to New York where he will be discussing the future course of action, including an investigation, with Arab, Turkish, and Israeli officials, as well as with members of the Security Council and other world leaders.

The most pressing issue is the release of the detainees, return of the deceased and care for the wounded. This should be done immediately.

The next issue before us is carrying out the call by the

Security Council for a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation. The Secretary-General has been discussing this issue today and hope to decide what is required soon after his return. The Secretary-General takes his responsibilities in this regard very seriously and will consult closely with members of the Council as we move forward.

Asked about a future investigation into the incident, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General had already spoken with several world leaders earlier Tuesday in Kampala, and would be holding meetings on Wednesday, upon his return to New York, to consider the developments and possible courses of action.

Asked what the United Nations was doing in relation to securing the release of those detained, the Spokesperson noted that their release is a top priority.

Asked about other aid ships reportedly heading to Gaza, the Spokesperson noted that the United Nations had seen those reports and was monitoring the situation.

We reiterate our call to all concerned to act with a sense of care and responsibility and for a satisfactory resolution and the United Nations has raised its concerns about this with international partners and with Israeli authorities and all parties should act in accordance with international law and avoid provocations at this sensitive time, Okabe said.

She added that the Secretary-General had instructed his Special Coordinator, Serry, and the Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), to actively engage on the ground [ in urging restraint and ensuring that no further harm is done and coordinating with all relevant parties.]

Asked if the United Nations had any figures on the number of casualties and how many had been jailed in Israeli prisons, the Spokesperson noted that the United Nations did not have any further information on that beyond the briefing on the incident by Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, to the Security Council yesterday.

Asked about the presence of a former UN official, Denis Halliday, on one of the flotilla ships, the Spokesperson said she was not in a position to confirm his presence.

SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS INTERCEPTION OF AID CONVOY, CALLS FOR RELEASE OF SHIPS AND CIVILIANS

The

Security Council met yesterday and issued a presidential statement early today condemning Israels interception of the aid convoy and calling for a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation.

In the

statement, the Council also called on Israel to immediately release the ships and civilians sailing on them, allow the countries involved to retrieve their deceased and wounded, and ensure the delivery of the humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The Council stressed that the situation in Gaza is not sustainable, again voicing its grave concern over the humanitarian situation in the area and emphasizing the need for the regular movement of goods and people.

Meanwhile, the

Human Rights Council has met on it this issue in Geneva and will resume its meeting tomorrow. In her remarks, Kyung-wha Kang, the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, reiterated the High Commissioners call for an immediate end to the Gaza blockade so that the deteriorating human rights crisis can be fully addressed with the urgency the situation requires.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WRAPS UP TRIP TO MALAWI AND UGANDA

Yesterday, the Secretary-General

spoke at the opening of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Review Conference and called for universal ratification of the ICC Statute.

Before visiting Uganda, the Secretary-General was in Malawi, where he

visited a Millennium Development Goals pilot project and met with the countries leadership, including President Bingu Mutharika who pardoned two Malawi homosexual men who had been sentenced to prison because of their sexual orientation. The Secretary-General

applauded the decision, calling it courageous. Later, in his

address to Parliament he called for the repeal of laws restricting sexuality wherever they might exist around the world.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY SEEKS FUNDING FOR AFGHAN REFUGEES IN IRAN

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, is

calling for $18 million to meet an anticipated shortfall this year in its requested funding for Afghan refugees in the Islamic Republic of Iran. To date only around a fifth of the $36.8 million budget needs has been received.

UNHCR says that Iran, which is facing its own economic difficulties amid the global downturn, has hosted two generations of Afghan refugees but has received little international support. Refugees have benefited from basic health and education services and usually have been able to earn a living - albeit only informally until work permits were issued to registered refugees last year. Given the recent slower pace of returns,

UNHCR has broadened its programme in Iran to better support services pending repatriation.

D.R.CONGO: UNICEF APPEALS FOR FUNDS TO ASSIST CHILDREN AND WOMEN

The UN Children's Fund has issued today a Humanitarian Action Update report on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It says that armed conflict, violence against civilians, rape, forced recruitment of children into armed forces and major population movement continue to affect large areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Almost 1.9 million persons are still displaced in the DRC, of which 50 per cent are children, says UNICEF.

UNICEFs response targets health, education, hygiene, water and immunization, but the agency says that without additional funds it will not be able to respond to the most urgent needs of children and women in the DRC.

UNICEF has appealed for $133 million for 2010 for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but only $20.5 million has been received to date.

UNITED NATIONS PROVIDES ASSISTANCE TO TROPICAL STORM AGATHA VICTIMS

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the first tropical storm of the current season, Agatha, has hit Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

The tropical storm brought heavy rainfalls which caused landslides and affected an estimated 110,000 persons, it adds. The United Nations is working with partners to respond to the situation.

In Guatemala, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has allocated an initial amount of $50,000 for assessments and for defining an early recovery strategy. The World Food Programme (WFP) is requesting 500,000 USD to provide initial assistance to some 10,000 people for 15 days.

OCHA says it has put a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team on standby and has provided a list of available emergency relief goods ready to be shipped to the region from the Brindisi.

GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FUND BECOMES PRIMARY FINANCING MECHANISM

FOR CONVENTION TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION

The Global Environment Facility (GEF), the world's largest fund for environmental challenges, will amend its Charter to affirm that it will be the primary financing mechanism of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

The action by the GEF Assembly, taken last week in Punta del Este, Uruguay, is expected induce considerable leverage investments, over the next four years, towards better land use practices in developing countries. It also signals to investors that the solutions the Convention offers and sustainable land management activities undertaken under its ambit are bankable.

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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