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United Nations Daily Highlights, 10-07-07

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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

FARHAN HAQ

ASSOCIATE

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS REMAINS HUGE COMMON CHALLENGE, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL

The Secretary-General

addressed the open debate of the

Security Council on civilians and armed conflict this morning, telling them that the wilful targeting of civilians, disproportionate attacks, sexual violence, forced displacement and the denial of humanitarian access remain widespread in armed conflict. He said that ongoing or recent events and conditions in Kyrgyzstan, Gaza, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere remind us that the protection of civilians remains a huge common challenge.

The Secretary-General identified key challenges, including designing peacekeeping mandates to increase the emphasis on the protection of civilians; increased compliance by non-state armed groups with international law; and accountability.

Discussing accountability,

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told the Council that among the most significant actions it has taken to protect civilians is the establishment of commissions of inquiry. And she discussed countries where protection of civilians has been a particular concern.

And Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes pointed to problems regarding constraints on humanitarian access, including in parts of Somalia, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

ESSENTIAL U.N. STAFF TO RETURN TO PREMISES IN SRI LANKAS CAPITAL

Following the Tuesday protests outside UN offices in Colombo which prevented staff and visitors from entering or leaving the premises, the United Nations Country Team confirms that essential staff will return to normal work, starting on Thursday.

However, as there are some indications of demonstrators remaining outside the compound, the UN Country Team will assess whether all staff could return soon.

The United Nations is continuing to closely monitor developments on the ground. It trusts that the Government of Sri Lanka will honour the commitments made in ensuring the safety and security of UN staff, so that they can continue the vital work being carried out by the United Nations each day to help the people of Sri Lanka.

Asked what the United Nations was doing to ensure that staff would be safe, the Spokesperson said there had been a number of high-level contacts with Sri Lankan Government officials to press that matter. He said that the Chef de Cabinet, Vijay Nambiar, met on Tuesday with Sri Lankas Permanent Representative to the United Nations, who gave full and clear assurances of UN staff safety and security.

Asked about recent remarks by the Sri Lankan Housing Minister, Wimal Weerawansa, the Spokesperson noted that Weerawansa, in a press conference, said that UN staff would be allowed to move in and out of the compound.

Haq said that, on an average day, there are some 200 staff at UN House in Colombo. Given the Tuesday incident, some staff worked from home today, but essential staff about 40 to 50 people would be expected to return to the office.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES FURTHER MEASURES TO EASE GAZA BLOCKADE

The Secretary-General will meet at 3:00 this afternoon with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Tuesday afternoon, in a

statement, the Secretary-General welcomed the further measures announced by the Government of Israel in increasing the scope and quantity of materials entering the Gaza Strip from Israel, and also noted the agreement to facilitate the immediate start of construction of 12 United Nations education and health facilities.

The Secretary-General has long called for a significant shift in strategy towards meeting the great needs of Gazas population. Further steps must now follow to meet those needs and to allow the United Nations to accelerate and expand its efforts.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals proposal for an international investigation into the 31 May flotilla incident, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General continues to raise the matter with his interlocutors, and he remains hopeful for a positive response.

UNIFIL-LEBANESE ARMED FORCES COOPERATION MUST BE MAINTAINED

The Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas, today chaired a tripartite meeting with senior officials from the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israel Defence Forces at the UN Position at the Ras Al Naqoura crossing.

During the meeting, all the issues relevant to the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1701 were discussed, including the situation along the Line of Withdrawal, or Blue Line, the ongoing visible marking of the Blue Line and the question of the village of Ghajar.

Also today, Michael Williams, the

UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, met with Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr, and they agreed that the excellent cooperation between UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces over the past four years has been the backbone of the stability that has prevailed in south Lebanon. This cooperation, they believe, must be maintained and enhanced.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals views on the recent disturbances between UNIFIL and some local communities in southern Lebanon, the Spokesperson said that those views were expressed in his recent report on the implementation of resolution 1701, which went to Security Council members last week.

Asked about the reasons for the disturbances, Haq noted that Williams had said that, in some instances, they had not been spontaneous. He added that UNIFIL was trying to communicate at the community level in places where there had been disturbances, to explain better the work that the peacekeepers do.

PEACE AGREEMENT ON DARFUR COULD BE SIGNED IN MID-JULY

On Darfur, a peace agreement is expected to be signed between the Government of Sudan and the Liberation and Justice Movement when the parties meet in Doha on 15 July, according to the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). An adviser to President Omar al-Bashir made the announcement on Tuesday in Khartoum after meeting with the Joint UN/AU Chief Mediator for Darfur, Djibril Bassolé.

Speaking to reporters after that meeting, Bassolé welcomed the parties decision to involve representatives of internally displaced persons, refugees and civil society in the talks. Darfur civil society groups are expected to meet on 12 July at a consultative forum in Doha.

Bassolé also said that he urged the Government to take all possible measures to restore confidence and reduce tensions in Darfur, including seeking an end to all armed hostilities with all armed groups.

EDUCATION STANDARDS AIM TO HELP 25 MILLION CHILDREN IN EMERGENCIES

UNICEF and partners today

announced minimum standards for education to help the 25 million children in countries and territories affected by conflict who are currently missing out on their right to primary education.

The Minimum Standards for Education: Preparedness, Response and Recovery updates a highly successful handbook that was translated into 23 languages and used in more than 80 countries by education and development professionals during emergencies.

UNICEF says that in emergencies the best things for children is to get them back in school. The 114-page handbook, produced by the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) and supported by UNICEF, aims to raise the quality of education in emergency situations and provides a universal framework for ensuring the right to education for children affected by crisis.

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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