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United Nations Daily Highlights, 10-07-08

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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

Thursday, July 8, 2010

SECRETARY-GENERAL CLOSES REGIONAL CENTRE IN COLOMBO FOLLOWING DISTURBANCES IN SRI LANKA

The Secretary-General finds it

unacceptable that the Sri Lankan authorities have failed to prevent the disruption of the normal functioning of the United Nations offices in Colombo as a result of unruly protests organized and led by a cabinet minister of the Government.

In light of the evolving situation, he is recalling the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Neil Buhne, to New York for consultations. He has also decided that the UNDP Regional Centre in Colombo will be closed.

The Secretary-General calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to live up to its responsibilities towards the United Nations as host country so as to ensure continuation of the vital work of the Organization to assist the people of Sri Lanka without any further hindrance.

In response to questions about the advisory panel on Sri Lanka, the Spokesperson added that the Secretary-General has made it absolutely clear that the panel of experts he has appointed on accountability in Sri Lanka is advisory and not adversarial in nature.

IRAQ: U.N. ENVOY CONDEMNS HORRIFIC ATTACK ON WORSHIPPERS

Ad Melkert, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Iraq, has condemned in the strongest terms the series of bombings targeting innocent pilgrims during a religious commemoration. The heinous attacks have resulted in killing dozens of worshippers and wounding hundreds more.

Melkert described the attacks as horrific crimes committed against defenseless civilians who were practicing their faith. He said that the formation of a broadly based government will be the most effective response in the face of insurgents who are aiming at destabilizing the country.

LEBANON FORCE COMMANDER INVITES CIVILIANS TO DISCUSS GRIEVANCES DIRECTLY WITH PEACEKEEPING MISSION

Major General Alberto Asarta Cuevas, the Force Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), today put out an open letter to the people of south Lebanon, so that he could speak directly, without any misunderstandings or misled interpretations.

He said that UNIFIL is fully aware of the problems that military operations in civilian areas may cause to the people. He said that the way to deal with those problems is to discuss them directly with UNIFIL, in order to find amicable solutions, not by obstructing the work of peacekeepers.

The Force Commander added that he expects the peacekeepers to act in a fully professional, objective and transparent manner and give their best effort in ensuring security and protection for the people, and accomplishing their mission without interfering in the daily lives of the Lebanese citizens. He stressed that UNIFIL troops are required to work in close coordination with the Lebanese army and particularly when undertaking any sensitive tasks.

AFGHANISTAN: U.N. MISSION CHIEF CO-CHAIRS PLANNING MEETING FOR KABUL CONFERENCE

Afghanistans Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB), co-chaired by Special Representative for

Afghanistan Staffan de Mistura, met today to prepare the ground for 20 July Kabul Conference, the first major international conference inside Afghanistan.

The purpose of the Kabul Conference is for the Government to set out its priorities and for donor countries to realign their assistance around these programmes to achieve meaningful improvements in the lives of Afghan citizens. It is not a conference for new promises or funding pledges, todays preparatory meeting made clear.

De Mistura welcomed the Afghan Governments leadership in developing 23 national priority programmes in the areas of governance, social and economic development, and peace and security. He said, These programmes are evidence of the transition to Afghan responsibility and leadership.

CROSS-BORDER ORGANIZED CRIME THREATENS WEST AFRICAS DEMOCRATIC GAINS

Two reports by the Secretary-General are now available: on Guinea-Bissau and the work of the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA).

On

Guinea-Bissau, the Secretary-General says he is deeply concerned that the influence of transnational crime in some sections of the military and the State apparatus threatens to further destabilize the country.

He notes that April's political crisis, which saw both the prime minister and the chief of general staff briefly detained by army troops, has been linked to drug trafficking. Security sector reform, he says, is therefore a crucial condition for stabilization of the country. He calls for a stronger effort to restructure that sector.

On

West Africa, the Secretary-General calls on regional leaders to reinforce national policies to combat cross-border criminal activities and terrorist threats, particularly in the Sahel Band. He also notes that while an increasing number of countries in the sub-region are holding regular elections, there is still room for improving the frameworks in which these elections are held.

Asked about the need for food assistance throughout West Africa, the Spokesperson recalled that the Secretary-General has repeatedly made clear that, regardless of the impact of the financial crisis, there are critical needs such as dealing with hunger that need to be funded. His Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, has visited the region and has also spoken out about the need to fund humanitarian programmes there.

CHILDREN ARE MAIN VICTIMS OF UNPRECEDENTED OUTBREAK OF LEAD POISONING IN NORTHERN NIGERIA

The World Health Organization (WHO) is working with the Nigerian Government to contain an unprecedented outbreak of lead poisoning in the countrys north, a result of the processing of lead-rich ore in gold mining.

WHO was part of an international investigation team that confirmed that more than 100 children in the area were suffering from severe lead poisoning, with more than 10 times the concentration of lead in their blood than the levels associated with impaired neurological development in young children. Lead concentrations that are 250 times higher than the limit for residential areas in the United States and France were also found in the area.

W.F.P. IS SETTING UP NEW FOOD SECURITY SYSTEM FOR HAITI

As part of the United Nations ongoing reconstruction efforts in Haiti, the World Food Programme (WFP)

says it is setting in place strategies and coordinated systems to help ensure the countrys long-term food security.

WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran noted that the agencys emergency food delivery helped avert a major hunger crisis in the wake of the 12 January earthquake. She added that WFP is now working with the Government and other partners on programmes mixing food and cash for work and school meals to rebuild Haitis food security system.

Meanwhile, a mail processing centre funded and managed by the Universal Postal Union (UPU)

opened this week in Port-au-Prince. About 60 people are employed by the centre, where they handle letter-post items, parcels and express mail items.

ACTOR EDWARD NORTON NAMED U.N. GOODWILL AMBASSADOR FOR BIODIVERSITY

The Secretary-General has designated award-winning actor and filmmaker Edward Norton as a Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity, marking the United Nations 2010 International Year of Biodiversity.

Mr. Norton has a long-standing commitment to mobilizing support for conservation efforts, most notably as a board member and active advocate for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

BAN KI-MOON, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER DISCUSSED GAZA: Asked about the meeting on Wednesday between the Secretary-General and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Spokesperson said that they discussed the Middle East peace process, the question of Gaza closures, and Lebanon and the recent report on resolution 1701, among other topics.

BHUTTO COMMISSION HAS COMPLETED ITS WORK: Asked about a letter from the Government of Pakistan concerning the work of the Fact-finding Commission dealing with Benazir Bhuttos assassination, the Spokesperson reiterated the Secretary-Generals view that the work of the Commission is complete. He said that the Secretary-General intends to reply to the Governments letter.

SPECIAL ADVISER TO CHAIR ISTANBUL CONFERENCE ON LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES: The Secretary-General has designated Mr. Cheick Sidi Diarra, his Special Adviser on Africa and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, as the Secretary-General of the Fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to be held in Istanbul, Turkey in 2011.

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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