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United Nations Daily Highlights, 10-08-10

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL MARTIN NESIRKY

U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS PANEL OF INQUIRY ON FLOTILLA INCIDENT

Starting at noon, the

Secretary-General met the members of the

Panel of Inquiry on the flotilla incident of 31 May 2010. Mr. Geoffrey Palmer, the Chairperson, and Mr. Alvaro Uribe, the Vice Chair, were joined by the Israeli and Turkish members of the panel, respectively Mr. Joseph Ciechanover and Mr. Özdem Sanberk.

The Secretary-General expressed his appreciation to the members of the Panel for undertaking this important responsibility and for the commitment with which they were approaching this task. He referred, with appreciation, to the support he had received from both the Turkish and Israeli Governments in establishing this panel.

The Panel will spend the coming days determining how they will undertake their task, and in this effort, the Secretary-General stressed they should seek the fullest cooperation of the national authorities. He reminded the members of the panel to discharge their mandate in the light of the Presidential Statement of the Security Council on this issue. The Secretary-General looks forward to their first progress report by 15 September 2010.

The Panel is not designed to determine individual criminal responsibility, but to examine and identify the facts, circumstances and the context of the incident, as well as to recommend ways of avoiding future incidents. For that purpose, the Panel will receive and review reports of national investigations into the incident and request such clarifications and information as it may require from relevant national authorities.

The Secretary-General expressed the hope that this Inquiry would also make a positive contribution to the broader peace process, and more specifically to improving relations between Turkey and Israel. He promised the full support of the Secretariat, and expected that they would also receive the fullest cooperation of the relevant national authorities.

In response to questions, the Spokesperson noted that, for the conduct of its work, the panel will decide what steps it will take and will work with the national authorities.

As was repeatedly emphasized, the cooperation of the parties is crucial to the panels work. Today, he said, the Secretary-General is renewing his call on the parties to fully cooperate with the panel.

Nesirky added that the panel can do its work in parallel with the work of national investigations, but would look into the materials provided by those investigations.

Asked whether the panel can issue subpoenas, the Spokesperson noted that it was not a criminal investigation and is not looking into criminal responsibility.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SADDENED BY SUFFERING CAUSED BY FIRES IN RUSSIA

The

Secretary-General is deeply saddened by the loss of life and suffering caused by the fires that have affected the territory of the Russian Federation outside Moscow. He extends his deepest condolences to the families of those who have died or been injured.

The Secretary-General is aware of the tremendous efforts being undertaken by the Government of the Russian Federation to bring the situation under control. He reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to assist in any way in this effort should it be required.

BAN KI-MOON EXTENDS CONDOLENCES FOLLOWING FLOODS IN CHINA

The Secretary-General is

deeply saddened by the loss of life and devastation caused by the severe flooding that has affected considerable portions of China. He extends his deepest condolences to the families of those who have died or been injured or lost their homes and possessions.

The Secretary-General is aware of the tremendous efforts being undertaken by the Government of China to evacuate people out of harms way, to carry out search and rescue operations, and to respond to needs arising from this situation. He reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to assist in any way in this effort should it be required.

FLASH APPEAL FOR PAKISTAN TO BE LAUNCHED ON WEDNESDAY

As the Secretary-General

said on Monday, an Emergency Response Plan and an appeal for several hundred million dollars will soon be issued to respond to immediate needs following the floods in Pakistan.

That appeal is expected to be launched in New York on Wednesday by the

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator,

John Holmes, and by representatives of the Government of Pakistan.

The UN relief agencies are concentrating on the six million persons in direct need of humanitarian assistance. According to initial estimates, more than 290,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed in the floods. Priority needs include providing shelter to more than two million persons. These are still very preliminary estimations, as the real extent of the destruction will be available only after the waters have receded.

The

World Food Programme (WFP) says that weather conditions improved slightly yesterday, allowing WFP to get its helicopters off the ground for the first time in three days to help the affected people in Pakistan.

U.N. MISSION: AFGHAN CIVILIAN CASUALTIES UP 31% FROM PREVIOUS YEAR

The

UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) says that there was a 31 per cent increase in conflict-related

Afghan civilian casualties in the first six months of 2010, as compared with the same period in 2009.

From 1 January to 30 June 2010, UNAMAs Human Rights Unit documented 3,268 civilian casualties, including 1,271 deaths and 1,997 injuries. Anti-Government elements were responsible for 76 per cent of all casualties, while 12 percent of the casualties were attributed to activities by pro-Government forces.

Among those killed or injured by the Taliban and other anti-Government elements were 55 per cent more children than in 2009, along with six per cent more women. The head of UNAMA,

Staffan de Mistura,

said, Afghan children and women are increasingly bearing the brunt of this conflict. They are being killed and injured in their homes and communities in greater numbers than ever before.

In response to questions, the Spokesperson noted the figures provided by UNAMAs Human Rights Unit, adding that the anti-Government elements were responsible for 2,477 casualties (76 percent of all casualties, up 53 percent from 2009) while 386 were attributed to activities by pro-Government forces (12 percent, down 30 percent).

The 1,271 total civilian deaths in the first half of 2010 was a 21 per cent increase over the number documented in the first half of 2009. In total, 920 (72 per cent of total civilian deaths) were attributed to anti-Government elements, up 48 per cent from the first half of 2009. Pro-Government forces were linked to 223 deaths or 18 per cent of total civilian deaths, down 29 per from 2009.

The Spokesperson added that UNAMA could not attribute the remaining 128 deaths (10 per cent of civilian deaths) to either party to the conflict.

U.N. ENVOY HOPEFUL FOR INCREASED U.N. PRESENCE IN SOMALIA

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia,

Augustine Mahiga, is hopeful that an increased representation from the

UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) inside that country will help advance the peace process there.

Mahiga

said that UNPOS, which he heads, will deploy some of its international staff to Puntland and Somaliland to join the local staff already in place. This is expected take place within the next few months.

Mahiga noted that it is crucial that his office ultimately be represented in the capital Mogadishu, where the

World Food Programme is feeding 340,000 people every day and where much of

Somalias vulnerable population is located. He added that we will take a cautious approach for security reasons.

There are currently more than 60 international UN staff based inside Somalia, and some 800 national staff, from various UN agencies. They are delivering humanitarian assistance and implementing recovery and development programmes to benefit some to 3.2 million Somalis.

SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC AND CHAD

The Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Central African Republic and Chad,

Youssef Mahmoud, briefed the

Security Council earlier this morning in an open meeting.

He said that peacekeepers in eastern Chad have ceased all area-security patrols and escorts, as the Mission implements the May 2010 Security Council

resolution on its drawdown and termination. He added that the Chadian Government has assumed full responsibility for the security and protection of civilians and aid workers in that region.

Meanwhile, despite some reported returns of internally displaced persons, the humanitarian situation remains of concern, as a new wave of Sudanese refugees reach the Chadian border. Council members also held consultations on the same subject.

CONCERNS OVER UNDER-FUNDED FLASH APPEAL FOR KYRGYZSTAN

The

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

says that the situation in Kyrgyzstan remains tense in the southern provinces of Osh and Jalalabad.

It says that there are concerns that, with the

revised Flash Appeal for $96 million only funded at 30 per cent so far, immediate humanitarian concerns will go unmet.

OCHA also says there are concerns over reports of serious human rights abuses in the countrys south, including abuse of power, arbitrary detentions and ill-treatment and extortion by law enforcement officials. It has also been reported that persons detained are coerced to sign false confessions and that false evidence is used during search operations, as well as unconfirmed allegations of secret detention facilities.

ZIMBABWE FOOD SECURITY IMPROVES, BUT 1.68 MILLION PEOPLE STILL NEED ASSISTANCE

A new

report by the

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the

World Food Programme (WFP)

says that food security in Zimbabwe improved significantly following government efforts and international assistance, but the country still needs agricultural and food assistance next year for some 1.68 million people.

The joint mission, which went to Zimbabwe in June, found that despite the improved availability of food, up to 1.68 million people will need food assistance because prices remain comparatively high for families with low incomes.

The report also notes that general poverty and chronic food insecurity had led to reduced diversity of consumption and had also contributed to an increased prevalence of chronic malnutrition among young children.

SUDANESE GOVERNMENT MUST RESUME FULL HUMANITARIAN ACCESS TO KALMA CAMP

In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that the situation in the Kalma camp in

Darfur remains tense and insecure, with reports of sporadic firing.

The Force Commander of the

African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfurs (UNAMID) visited the camp over the weekend to discuss the situation with teams on the ground. Several thousand displaced people are still taking refuge outside of UNAMIDs Community Policing Centre in the camp. Many others have gone to a nearby camp at Bileil, which is stretching resources there.

The humanitarian community currently has no access to Kalma, where it is believed over 50,000 internally displaced people still reside.

The Spokesperson said that the United Nations is concerned by shortages of food and fuel; deliveries have stopped and fuel for water pumps has run out. Sanitation is a major concern, as it is the middle of the rainy season.

The Government must resume full humanitarian access to Kalma and to surrounding areas where displaced people have fled, Nesirky said.

UNAMID continues to be engaged with the Government at all levels to peacefully resolve the situation and ensure protection for all

internally displaced persons and civilians. In this regard, UNAMID has stepped up patrols in and around Kalma and is on high alert.

SECRETARY-GENERAL BELIEVES FREE PRESS IS ESSENTIAL

Asked about reports of a media crackdown in Rwanda, the Spokesperson said that the

Secretary-General hopes for a peaceful process going forward and continued progress in the economic and democratic development of the country.

On the issue of media freedom, he feels strongly that a free press is essential in a democracy. Professional media can play a very constructive role in promoting moderation and discouraging the violence that has often characterized elections in Africa.

Asked about recent killings in Rwanda, the Spokesperson noted that when the Secretary-General met President Paul Kagame last month in Madrid, he stressed the importance of investigating crimes that were causing political tensions in the country.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

CYPRUS PARTIES TO MEET AGAIN AT END OF AUGUST: The Secretary-Generals Special Adviser for Cyprus,

Alexander Downer,

spoke to the press in Nicosia today. He told them that the leaders had had a long discussion on the property issue today, in their last meeting before a three-week break, after which they will meet again on 31 August.

RECRUITMENT PROCESS FOR TOP INVESTIGATOR TO START AFTER NEW DIRECTOR HAS STARTED WORK: Asked about comments by the

Secretary-General concerning hiring at the

Office for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General wants to make it absolutely clear that the recruitment process for the Director of the Investigations Division will start only after the new Under-Secretary-General of OIOS has taken up her post. This selection will be conducted strictly in accordance with the established rules and procedures.

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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