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United Nations Daily Highlights, 10-08-24

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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

MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

SECRETARY-GENERAL OUTRAGED BY LARGE-SCALE RAPES IN EASTERN CONGO

The Secretary-General is

outraged by the rape and assault of at least 154 Congolese civilians, during an attack by armed elements of the Mai-Mai and the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR), in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This is another grave example of both the level of sexual violence and the insecurity that continue to plague the DRC.

The Secretary-General reiterates his call on all armed groups in the DRC to lay down their weapons and join the peace process. The Secretary-General further calls on the authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to investigate this incident and bring to justice the perpetrators of these crimes and renew efforts to bring an end to insecurity in the eastern part of the country.

The United Nations supports the efforts of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to fight impunity and ensure the protection of civilians from violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including all forms of sexual and gender-based violence.

Given the seriousness of the incident, the Secretary-General has decided to dispatch immediately Assistant Secretary-General Atul Khare, Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, to the DRC. He has also instructed his Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict,

Margot Wallström, to take charge of the UNs response and follow-up to this incident.

Wallström said in a statement that she was shocked to learn of the horrific rapes in North Kivu. She condemned the rapes in the strongest possible terms and added: It should be noted that this incident represents a very extreme case in terms of its scale and the level of organization of the attacks. This terrible incident confirms my general findings during my recent visit to the DRC of the widespread and systematic nature of rape and other human rights violations. She said similar information is also being confirmed on a regular basis by UN, NGO, and civil society sources, stressing the fact that Congo remains one of the grave situations of concern that requires priority attention and response of the international community.

She added that the UN is trying to ensure a more rigorous monitoring of sexual violence and other human rights violations as a way to identify perpetrators and ensure that action is taken against them by the Government of the DRC, the Security Council, and others. Those who committed these terrible rapes, Wallström said, must be brought to justice.

Asked about problems in learning about the rapes, the Spokesperson noted that there is only one main road in the area. The attackers prevented any villagers from reaching that road and thus from coming into contact with traffic along the road, which was also used by commercial vehicles.

Nesirky provided a chronology of events by which the United Nations learned of and responded to the reported attacks. The response began on 12 August, when

MONUSCOs North Kivu office received reports from an international medical NGO that 68 victims had been identified and assisted. This information was relayed to the Provincial Ministry of Health. In response, the UN Mission took immediate action.

On 13 August, MONUSCOs North Kivu office deployed a Joint Protection Team (JPT) to the area which stayed from 13 to 17 August. Also on 13 August, the MONUSCO North Kivu office shared the information it had received with the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC), requesting their deployment to the area.

On 14 August, the North Kivu Brigade launched a fact finding mission to the area.

On 18 August, the preliminary findings of the Joint Protection Team were reported within MONUSCO and a decision was taken to send a full fledged human rights investigation mission. On 21 August, a strategy to coordinate the response to sexual violence was established jointly by MONUSCO, UNICEF, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the medical organizations already present on the ground.

On 24 August, Nesirky said, the North Kivu office finalized preparation for the deployment of a human rights investigation mission. Support staff was sent from UN Joint Human Rights Office in Kinshasa on 23 August and an investigation mission is planned to be deployed on 25 August.

Asked about the lack of reporting immediately following the attacks, the Spokesperson said that it is not uncommon for incidents to go unreported given the fear of brutal reprisals.

Nesirky noted that the Operating Base was never informed of the attack by either the population or the local authorities. Peacekeepers routinely patrol the area. Since the Base covers a vast area, patrols and escorts are often made on request, he added.

The Spokesperson said that what happened was an unprovoked attack on civilians in a remote location. It was outrageous that this happened, he said, and the Secretary-General was now responding, including by dispatching the senior peacekeeping official at UN Headquarters to the country.

U.N. ENVOY FOR SOMALIA CONDEMNS ATTACK ON MOGADISHU HOTEL

Augustine Mahiga, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Somalia, condemned in the strongest possible terms the attack on a Mogadishu hotel today, in which several civilians, including Members of Parliament, were killed.

Mahiga said, These callous, brutal acts, which were clearly aimed at causing maximum bloodshed to innocent people, defy rational comprehension. Those who are responsible for these murders are only interested in causing destruction and misery to the Somali people.

He said that the peace process will continue in Somalia, despite the attempts by a violent minority to disrupt it. Such violence will only serve to increase the determination of all friends of Somalia to help bring a quick end to the conflict and to provide Somalis with hope for the future, he said.

The

Security Council, in a press statement issued today, also condemned the attack in Mogadishu.

Asked about action against Somali pirates and al-Shabab fighters, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations has made clear that those responsible for crimes should be brought to justice.

MORE HELICOPTERS ARE NEEDED, WITH 17.2 MILLION PEOPLE AFFECTED BY PAKISTAN FLOODS

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that monsoon floods are continuing to displace millions of people in southern Pakistan, with some 800,000 people only accessible by air. More helicopters are urgently required. The Office adds that the floods have now affected an estimated 17.2 million people, with at least eight million people needing life-saving assistance.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that medical supplies covering the needs of 2.2 million persons have been delivered, including medicines to treat 90,500 cases of diarrhoea.

The World Food Programme (WFP) says that it has delivered food to 1.75 million people as of this morning, with 150,000 people being reached daily if conditions permit. The World Food Programme has commitments now for about 30 helicopters, including the ones it is already using.

The $460 million emergency response plan is now 59 per cent funded; that amount does not count an additional $62 million in pledges.

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES LEBANON, D.P.R.K. SANCTIONS

The

Security Council held consultations this morning to receive an update on the work of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Council members are considering an extension of the missions mandate. Atul Khare, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed the Council on recent developments in Lebanon.

The Security Council also heard a briefing in its consultations on the work of its

Sanctions Committee dealing with Resolution 1718, which concerns the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. That committee is chaired by Ambassador Erugrul Apakan of Turkey.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS BABACAR GAYE OF SENEGAL AS MILITARY ADVISER FOR PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS: The Secretary-General has appointed Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye of Senegal as Military Adviser for Peacekeeping Operations. He replaces Nigerias Lieutenant General Chikadibia Isaac Obiakor, whose tour of duty ends on 2 September.

U.N. AGENCIES HAVE CALLED FOR MORE FUNDING FOR NIGER CRISIS: Asked about hunger in Niger, the Spokesperson said that the head of the World Food Programme (WFP), Josette Sheeran, and the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes, have repeatedly raised the issue of Niger as an under-funded humanitarian emergency.

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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