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United Nations Daily Highlights, 04-11-17
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPOKESMAN'S NOON BRIEFING
BY FRED ECKHARD
SPOKESMAN FOR THE
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
ANNAN CONDEMNS BRUTAL EXECUTION OF MARGARET HASSAN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan is
shocked and deeply saddened by reports of the brutal execution of Margaret Hassan, Head of the CARE International office in
Iraq, who was taken hostage on 19 October.
Ms. Hassan, who had been an aid worker in Iraq for more than 25 years and had acquired Iraqi citizenship, devoted her life to helping the Iraqi people. The Secretary-General condemns this abhorrent crime.
CARE International is one of the most prominent and respected aid organizations active in areas of conflict and distress. Under the direction of Ms. Hassan, CARE International had become a close partner of the United Nations, particularly of
UNICEF, the UN Childrens Fund, in alleviating the needs of the Iraqi people.
The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest possible terms the targeting of humanitarian aid workers and organizations and reiterates that such acts of terror are indefensible.
The work of Ms. Hassan in Iraq will be remembered by all in Iraq and beyond as an example of human solidarity.
The Secretary-General expresses his deepest sympathy and condolences to the family and loved ones of Ms. Hassan. He shares their grief and sorrow.
U.N. ENVOY AND IRAQI PRESIDENT DISCUSS IMPACT OF HOSTILITIES
ON CIVILIAN POPULATION IN FALLUJAH
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for
Ashraf Qazi, today held talks with President Ghazi al-Yawar, in which they discussed the situation in Falluja following the military operations in that city.
They focused on humanitarian conditions in Falluja and the impact of the hostilities on the civilian population.
They also discussed the preparations for national elections, scheduled for late January, and efforts to create a political and security environment that is conducive for the holding of credible and comprehensive elections.
UN Assistance Mission to Iraq has been closely monitoring the situation in Falluja, and has provided medical and other essential supplies to the civilian population, in cooperation with non-governmental organizations and Iraqi ministries.
Qazi has also been meeting with various Iraqi officials and political and civic activists to explore means by which the United Nations can contribute to advancing the political process in Iraq, in line with
Security Council resolution 1546.
Asked about the contribution by Fijian soldiers to the security of UN staff in Iraq, the Spokesman said the Fijians are being recruited as close protection experts, to provide an inner ring of protection for UN premises and staff. He added that there is also to be a middle and outer ring of security, provided by the multinational force.
COTE D'IVOIRE: MEDIA MESSAGES INTERSPERSED WITH CALLS FOR MILITANTS
TO REMAIN MOBILIZED
The overall situation in Cote dIvoire is reported to be relatively calm.
UN Operation in Cote dIvoire (UNOCI) says that 10 days after the start of the crisis, none of the international radio stations have been allowed to resume their broadcasts. None of the opposition newspapers have reappeared, and the Government continues to hold the monopoly over the media.
UNOCI says that while official reaction to the
resolution adopted this week has been a resolute desire to comply, these messages are interspersed with calls for the Young Patriot militants to remain mobilized.
The UN Radio, meanwhile, is broadcasting peace messages, along with features and interviews on the economic and humanitarian effects of the crisis.
UN peacekeepers continue to patrol sensitive areas in Abidjan to preempt any security risks to the civilian population. UN police have resumed their outreach activities with the local population.
In the north, the
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that all checkpoints in Bouake have been dismantled. Electricity was re-established on Monday night.
Meanwhile, prices of basic food items have increased and fuel has skyrocketed by 100%. The
World Food Programme distributed food for about 2,000 persons in two orphanages.
UNICEF, the UN Childrens Fund, has provided fuel to health centers to ensure that the cold chain for vaccines is not affected by the erratic supply of electricity.
OCHA also says that in the Zone de Confidence, the situation remains very tense and the civilian population is very vulnerable to attacks.
SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBERS ARRIVE IN NAIROBI
FOR TWO-DAY MEETING ON SUDAN
There are no meetings or consultations of the
Security Council today here or in Nairobi, where Council members arrived ahead of a two-day meeting on
The Secretary-General and his Special Representative for the Sudan,
Jan Pronk, will participate in the meeting.
In line with the unanimously adopted
resolution 1569 (2004), the Council decided to take the opportunity of its presence in Nairobi to discuss other peace efforts in the region.
The Councils discussions are expected to focus on the civil conflicts engulfing the Sudan, including the crisis in the Darfur region, as well as the long-running civil war in the southern part of the country.
According to the
Security Council Presidency, this will be only the fourth time in its history that the Council is meeting away from United Nations Headquarters in New York, and its first formal meeting in Nairobi.
UN Information Centre in Nairobi has accredited more than 400 national and international reporters to cover the event.
U.N. MISSION IN SUDAN REPORTS SHOOTINGS AT DARFUR REFUGEE CAMPS
UN Mission in Sudan reports, based on accounts from
internally displaced persons, that over the weekend, police units at Kalma camp in
South Darfur started firing indiscriminately.
The residents speculate that shooting took place as a warning following the visit of the Commission of Inquiry on Saturday, 13 November.
According to the Government, rebels within the camp fired on Sudanese police positions, forcing an exchange of gunfire, the UN Mission reports.
The Mission also reports that residents in camps around El-Geneina are increasingly concerned about the presence of armed men in and around their camps. They report that gunshots are being fired during the night.
Also in West Darfur, UN agency workers conducted a one-day training workshop for 60 members of the African Monitoring Force in El Geneina. The subject was on sexually transmitted diseases and gender-based violence.
UNITED NATIONS HELPED FORM PALESTINIAN ELECTORAL COMMISSION
Asked about the Palestinian elections scheduled for next January, the Spokesman said that, as part of the process of reform of the Palestinian Authority, in a project funded by the donor community, since 2002 the United Nations served as lead technical advisor in the formation of a new Palestinian Electoral Commission. The UNs assistance included training, drafting of plans of operations and registration projects.
Until earlier this year, the UNs chief technical advisor had been Carlos Valenzuela, who is now in
Iraq. His post has now been filled by an electoral official from the European Union.
This new commission, the Spokesman said, is now ready to go.
The United Nations is now awaiting a further request of assistance that may be needed to plan for elections in January.
ANNAN CONGRATULATES CONDOLEEZZA RICE
Secretary-General yesterday evening spoke by telephone with U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. He congratulated her on her appointment to become the next Secretary of State.
As he told reporters on Monday, he is looking forward to a constructive and collaborative relationship with the U.S. administration and the next Secretary of State.
UNITED NATIONS IS COOPERATING WITH IRAQ OIL-FOR-FOOD INQUIRY
Asked about media reports that some of the money diverted by Saddam Hussein from the
oil-for-food program had been used to compensate families of suicide bombers, the Spokesman said that the matter had not been taken up by the
661 Sanctions Committee on Iraq.
He noted hearings in the U.S. Congress this week about the skimming of money from the oil-for-food program. In a Monday hearing in the Senate, it had been said that the amount that was diverted had totaled $21.3 billion. Eckhard said that Senator Carl Levin acknowledged that a substantial portion of that money predated the existence of the oil-for-food program.
The Spokesman asserted that none of the oil-for-food money was to go to Saddam Hussein, but to an escrow account for the benefit of all Iraqis. The oil money that went into any other account, as the
Secretary-General had said, was illegal and a breach of sanctions. The Spokesman said that
Paul Volckers independent inquiry committee was to determine the extent to which sanctions had been breached.
Asked for the Secretary-Generals reaction to Volckers letter to Senator Levin and Senator Norm Coleman, concerning the sharing of documentation, the Spokesman noted that the Security Council itself had approved the Secretary-Generals recommendation to set up an independent inquiry under Volcker.
The United Nations, he said, had turned over all oil-for-food documentation to Volcker, who said that he would control it.
The Secretary-General, Eckhard said, approved of that arrangement at the time, and does so today. It is the only way that Volcker can conduct an orderly and thorough investigation.
The Spokesman added that everyone at the United Nations has been told to cooperate with Volcker, whom he described as a trusted individual with enormous integrity. Its perverse to describe this as a cover-up, he said.
Asked about contacts between the
Deputy Secretary-General, Louise Frechette, and the two Senators, the Spokesman said he was unaware of such contacts.
The Secretary-General, he said, had spoken to each of the Senators over the weekend, saying that he wanted to get to the bottom of this, and did not want to obstruct their investigation, but had an obligation to all 191 Member States.
The Spokesman, in response to another question, said that the Secretary-General supports Volckers position on testimony by UN staff.
U.N. ENVOY WELCOMES FORMATION OF GOVERNMENT IN KOSOVO
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative in
Soren Jessen-Petersen, has welcomed the formation of a coalition government there. He said he counts on all parties to play an active role in the democratic process.
He also said he trusts that the new custodians of the provisional institutions will honor their commitment to work closely with minority communities, and towards building a stable multiethnic society.
NIGERIA AIMS TO IMMUNIZE ALL CHILDREN AGAINST POLIO
UNICEF, the UN Childrens Fund, notes that
Nigeria aims to immunize every child there against
polio during the upcoming National Immunization Day, which kicks off on 20 November.
There is a lot riding on this campaign, with UNICEF adding that the polio eradication campaign in Nigeria was on track until the Oral Polio Vaccines controversy, which began last year over resistance by some Nigerian states to use of the polio vaccine.
As of last Friday, the
World Health Organization has confirmed that 682 Nigerian children, in 31 states, under the age of five years old have been paralyzed by polio this year up from 335 cases in 19 states last year.
NEW SENIOR OFFICIAL APPOINTED TO U.N. MISSION IN ETHIOPIA AND ERITREA: Sissel Ekaas of Norway has been appointed Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the
UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Immediately prior to this appointment, Ekaas served as the Director, Gender and Population Division, Sustainable Development Department in the
Food and Agriculture Organization. She is expected to take up her duties in Asmara by the end of this month.
NEW STANDARD APPROVED FOR A HUMAN GENETIC TEST: The
World Health Organization has
approved the first international standard for a human genetic test. It says that use of the standard will help improve the accuracy and quality of laboratory results worldwide from a frequently used genetic test. This test identifies a genetic predisposition to thrombosis and could therefore enable people to take preventive measures. The new standard was agreed at the 55th session of one of WHO's longest-standing committees, the
WHO Expert Committee on Biological Standardization which is meeting from November 15 to 18 in Geneva.
DEVELOPMENT INDICATORS RELEASED FOR ASIA-PACIFIC: The
United Nations Environment Programme has
released a set of indicators to help countries in the Asia-Pacific region measure their progress towards sustainable development goals. Overall, the indicators show progress in economic performance, poverty reduction and human health but declines in the quality of land, air, water and biodiversity resources. The indicators are published in simple, graphical form; and they allow policy-makers to use benchmarks and assess trends in 30 different economic, social and environmental areas.
UNESCO AND MICROSOFT JOIN FORCES TO BRIDGE DIGITAL DIVIDE:
UNESCO and Microsoft have
signed a cooperation agreement today to help bridge the digital divide, by using information technology to improve education and development worldwide. The agreement defines eight areas in which UNESCO and Microsoft will work together, exchanging experiences, know-how and developing projects. The include cultural and linguistic diversity and preservation, and fostering web-based communities of practice, including content development, knowledge sharing and empowerment through participation.
EDUCATION FOR RURAL PEOPLE TO BE STRENGTHENED: The
Food and Agriculture Organization,
UNESCO, the European Commission, and several European NGOs, have
agreed to strengthen cooperation in order to address the basic education needs of rural people. The project, discussed at a three-day meeting which ended today, will raise public awareness in Europe on the topic.
W.H.O. TO ANNOUNCE AWARD FOR COMMUNITY-BASED HIV TREATMENT: The
World Health Organization will announce a $1 million award tomorrow to the Collaborative Fund for HIV Treatment Preparedness. That grant is intended for community-based treatment preparedness activities and the distribution of funds for treatment and advocacy. The treatment program will be launched tomorrow.
International Year of Microcredit 2005.
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