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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-08-01
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
AHMAD FAWZI, DIRECTOR OF THE NEWS AND MEDIA DIVISION,
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INFORMATION
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
ANNAN TO VISIT HAITI AND DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Secretary-General Kofi Annan will leave for official visits to Haiti and the Dominican Republic on Wednesday.
In Haiti, he is expected to hold meetings with President Rene Preval, Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis and Foreign Minister Jean Reynald Clerisme. He is also expected to address a joint session of parliament.
He will also meet with senior officials and contingent commanders of the UN Mission in Haiti.
In the Dominican Republic, the Secretary-General is expected to meet President Leonel Fernandez, as well as with the Presidents of the upper and lower houses of the Congress and the Supreme Court. He will also address a gathering of government officials and civil society.
HAITI HAS UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO MOVE TOWARDS STABLE, PEACEFUL FUTURE
The Secretary-Generals latest report on the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) was issued today.
In it, he says that with the successful completion of the national elections, a page in the history of
Haiti has been turned and Haitians have a unique opportunity to move towards a future of stable and peaceful development.
But, he adds, the countrys needs remain vast and the challenges immense as the sources of instability still exist and the national security capacity to address them remains inadequate.
He calls on donors to provide urgent and generous support for the Haitian authorities to address these needs.
ANNAN DISCUSSES MIDDLE EAST CRISIS
WITH SECURITY COUNCILS PERMANENT MEMBERS
The Secretary-General organized a breakfast meeting with the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the Security Council to have frank discussions on all aspects of the current crisis in the Middle East, without speaking points and advisers on hand. They discussed how the Security Council can work together to ensure a speedy resolution of the conflict.
They discussed the cessation of hostilities, a ceasefire and political framework for a settlement, the composition and deployment of a stabilization force for Lebanon and the humanitarian situation.
The Secretary-General is satisfied with the outcome of the discussions, which permitted clarification of the critical issues and discussions of timelines.
Asked for specifics about the meeting, Fawzi said that the participants had discussed various concepts about a force for Lebanon, and the Secretary-General had urged them to put their differences aside.
Asked about proposals by Lebanons acting Foreign Minister for a resolution to the crisis, the spokesperson said that the Secretary-General would meet the Foreign Minister this afternoon, and was taking into consideration all proposals to end the crisis.
Asked whether the Secretary-General had phoned former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to get him to make the British Government push for a ceasefire, the spokesperson categorically denied that he had done so.
Asked whether the Secretary-General would travel to Iran or Syria in the coming days, the spokesperson said he was no aware of any trip, but added that the Secretary-General was in contact with both countries and would be willing to send an envoy if the need arises and conditions are right.
Asked how the United Nations could ensure that Hezbollah would not take advantage of a cease-fire, the spokesperson said that the Secretary-General had called for a cessation of hostilities to give space for humanitarian workers and for politicians to come up with a cease-fire that would be respected by all the parties: Lebanon, Israel and Hezbollah.
LEBANON: TROOP CONTRIBUTORS MEETING TO BE HELD ON THURSDAY
The press had been informed last week that the Secretary-General had wanted to hold a technical meeting this week to determine which countries could potentially contribute troops to a future international force for Lebanon. That meeting, originally intended for Monday, will now take place at UN Headquarters on Thursday.
The meeting is being organized by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and will be chaired by Under-Secretary-General Jean Marie Guéhenno.
Asked about the distinction between a UN peacekeeping force and a multinational force, the Middle East spokesperson said that the former would be a blue-helmeted force under the authority of the United Nations, while the latter would be a coalition of the willing, under the leadership of a specific State and with a mandate from the Security Council to perform a specific mission.
Asked which of those options the Secretary-General prefers, the spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is urging Member States to resolve their differences. The meeting with troop contributors, he said, was intended to lay the groundwork for a force while governments could decide on what option they preferred.
Asked about Syrias position in favour of a UN force but rejecting a multinational force, the spokesperson noted that the Security Council would have to decide on the mandate of a force, and said a Council resolution defining such a mandate was eagerly awaited in the coming days.
Asked what the troop contributors meeting can accomplish without a Security Council mandate, Fawzi said that it was a technical meeting at which nations could discuss what their resources were and what they might be willing to deliver. But he noted that some nations may be reluctant to contribute to a force until it has a clear mandate.
ISRAELI MILITARY CROSSES INTO LEBANON NEAR SOUTH LEBANESE VILLAGE
The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) reports that, this afternoon, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) entered Lebanese territory in the general area of Ayta Ash Shab, in the western sector. Heavy ground fighting is reported in this area.
The UN Mission says that exchanges of fire continued with somewhat reduced intensity along the length of the Blue Line in the past 24 hours. Hezbollah continued to fire rockets and mortars, but on a lower scale, while the IDF continued intensive shelling.
UNIFIL has also been delivering food and water to towns in southern Lebanon.
Asked whether there had been Hezbollah activity at the UN observer post in Khiam prior to the Israeli attack, the Middle East spokesperson said that Israel and a UN Board of Inquiry would each conduct an investigation into what happened, and the United Nations would await the results of the two investigations.
Asked whether the Board of Inquiry would address why four military observers had been left without protection in a war zone, the spokesperson reiterated that the United Nations had received repeated assurances by all parties that the UNTSO military observers would not be harmed. He noted that the Khiam post had been in existence for a long time.
FOOD AGENCY FRUSTRATED AS ISRAEL BLOCKS
TWO HUMANITARIAN CONVOYS TO LEBANON
On the humanitarian front, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
reports that nearly $25 million in pledges and commitments have been received for the $150 million Lebanon flash appeal. Large quantities of bilateral aid, outside the UN appeal, have also been pledged.
The World Food Programme (WFP) reports that it is increasingly frustrated, following the Israeli Defense Forces decision today to only allow one of three planned humanitarian convoys to proceed to southern Lebanon.
OCHA reports that fuel needs are growing increasingly urgent as UN reserves inside Lebanon are being depleted.
Asked whether the United Nations was also concerned about the humanitarian situation in northern Israel, Fawzi said the United Nations was concerned about casualties on all sides, and said that the life of an Israeli child, a Lebanese child or a Palestinian child was valued equally.
Asked about the damage to UN offices in Beirut, he said that demonstrators had attacked the UN offices on Sunday in anger at the international community for its inability to stop the war. Fawzi added that a number of Lebanese Government officials, including Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and officials from Hezbollah, had intervened to stop the violence, and the United Nations was grateful for their efforts, which had avoided injuries to UN staff, although there was material damage to the offices. He added that there had also been demonstrations at UN offices in Gaza and Cairo, among other places.
Asked whether the United Nations, in addition to negotiating with Israeli forces for the delivery of aid, also had to negotiate with Hezbollah, the spokesperson said it did, adding that Hezbollah has sometimes posed obstacles to some convoys.
Asked about the perception in the Arab world that the United Nations is crippled, the spokesperson refuted that view, saying that UN agencies, funds and programmes are doing as much as they can to help Lebanon under the current circumstances. On the political level, he said, the Secretary-General and his colleagues have spoken out against the war and offered a political solution. The Secretary-General, he said, had pleaded with the Security Council on Sunday to stop the killing, and had stressed that there are no military solutions.
SUDAN: U.N. ENVOY CONCERNED BY RECENT FIGHTING IN DARFUR
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for
Sudan, Jan Pronk, is headed to West Darfur today for a two-day visit in order to discuss with the authorities, humanitarian workers and representatives of internally displaced persons (IDPs) the security situation in many areas of the state, including in IDP camps where government workers were recently killed.
Also, in a joint statement issued today, Pronk and the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission in the Sudan, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, have expressed concern about the fighting that took place recently in the Kulkul area in North Darfur.
Both of the Special Representatives call for an immediate cessation of hostilities there, and reiterate that a military solution to the ongoing conflict is not an option to be pursued by any of the parties.
U.N. ENVOY URGES THE CONGOLESE TO BE
CALM & PATIENT DURING BALLOT COUNTING
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Democratic Republic of the Congo William Lacy Swing today called on Congolese to remain calm and patient during the ballot counting now underway across the vast nation.
Meanwhile, the UN Mission in the country, known as MONUC, reports that ballot counting has been completed at the majority of the 11,843 voting stations, and that results continued to reach the 62 designated Local Results Computation Centers throughout the country.
The Mission says the process is experiencing some delays due to poor road conditions and lack of necessary equipment at certain results computation centers in the capital Kinshasa and in the provinces of Bas-Congo, Ituri, and southern Katanga.
Asked about Swings reaction to the allegations made by one party of massive fraud in the elections, the Spokeswoman said that Swing was appealing for calm and patience. She noted that, although preliminary results were coming in from some polling stations, final results would not be ready until about 20 August.
She later told UN reporters that Swing would talk to them by videoconference on Wednesday, at 2:00 p.m.
DIALOGUE BETWEEN TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT
AND ISLAMIC COURTS ESSENTIAL FOR SOMALIA
The Special Representative of the Secretary General for Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, told the Council of Ministers of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development that the continuation of dialogue between the Transitional Federal Government and the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts was an essential first step towards a solution to the present situation in Somalia.
Speaking earlier today in Nairobi at a special meeting called by Kenyas Foreign Ministry to address the unfolding crisis in Somalia, Fall said the UN Security Council had expressed its willingness to consider a partial lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia, so as to allow a possible peace support mission into the country, if it judged that such move would contribute to peace and stability in Somalia.
Asked whether Fall has any response to reports that the talks between the Transitional Federal Government and the Islamic Courts have been put off, the Spokeswoman said that Fall, in accordance with his mandate, continues to work on trying to move forward with a dialogue between those two groups.
ANNAN LOOKS FORWARD TO IRANS RESPONSE TO RECENT PROPOSAL
Asked about comments attributed to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about the Monday Security Council resolution concerning Iran, the Spokeswoman said the Secretary-General had no reaction to media reports. She said that the Secretary-General continues to look forward to Irans response to the proposal that they had been given.
She added, in response to a further question, that the Secretary-General had not had any contact with Iranian officials since the passage of the resolution, although he has had contact with them in recent weeks.
U.N. TEAM IN NEPAL TRAVELS OUTSIDE CAPITAL
The UN Mission visiting Nepal to explore possible UN assistance to that countrys peace process today continued its intensive consultations and traveled outside of Kathmandu for the first time in order to gain a fuller understanding of the situation on the ground.
The leader of the Mission, Staffan de Mistura, told reporters today that he is now "confident" and "optimistic" that the Government and the Communist Party of Nepal can arrive at a common understanding on the issue of arms management before the Mission returns to New York on Thursday.
GHANA ASSUMES SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENCY: Today Ghana assumes the rotating Presidency of the Security Council. Council members are holding bilaterals today on the monthly programme of work. Tomorrow the Ghanaian Ambassador, Nana Effah-Apenteng, will brief the press at 1:00 p.m.
EMERGENCY CASH RELEASED FOR TAJIKISTAN QUAKE VICTIMS: The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has
released a $20,000 emergency cash grant for Tajikistan, following two earthquakes that hit that country on Saturday. OCHA reports that immediate needs in Tajikistan include tents, blankets, mattresses, food, clothing, fuel and medication.
UNICEF HIGHLIGHTS BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING: Today marks the start of World Breastfeeding Week, a programme launched by UNICEF to promote the health benefits of breastfeeding and to help mothers ensure their babies are being properly fed. Though breastfeeding rates are increasing in the developing world, UNICEF estimates that 63% of children under 6 months are still not adequately breastfed. UNICEF also released a global study today which estimates that as many as 275 million children are currently exposed to domestic violence.
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