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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-08-02

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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 MARIE OKABE

DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

WITH

AHMAD FAWZI, DIRECTOR OF THE NEWS AND MEDIA DIVISION,

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INFORMATION

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

ANNANS TRIP TO HAITI POSTPONED

The Secretary-Generals departure for Haiti has been delayed due to technical problems with the aircraft.

His trip to Haiti is now planned to begin on Thursday.

UN MISSION IN LEBANON REPORTS HEAVY FIGHTING

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) today reported continuing heavy fighting in that country, including intensive shelling and exchanges of fire on the ground in the southern town of Ayta Ash Shab.

UNIFIL says that there were five incidents of firing from the Israeli side close to UN positions. It was also reported that Hezbollah fired rockets from the vicinity of three UNIFIL positions.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, expressed her profound shock and sadness at the recent events in Qana and the brutal deaths of 37 children and their families. She strongly condemned the repeated attacks on civilians, and especially on children, and joined the Secretary-General in calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

According to reports from UN monitors on the ground, an estimated 177 children have been killed in Lebanon to date.

U.N. CONVOYS DELIVER ENOUGH FOOD FOR 80,000 LEBANESE

Today, UN humanitarian aid convoys

left for Sidon and Tyre. To date, the United Nations has dispatched nine such convoys to south Lebanon from Beirut delivering 280 tons of food, enough for 80,000 people for one week as well as medical kits and shelter materials.

A UNICEF-supported measles campaign for displaced children in Beirut is due to start tomorrow.

The World Health Organization is looking into supplying antiretroviral drugs for some 200 HIV/AIDS patients in Beirut.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will continue handing out relief supplies to 700,000 displaced Lebanese, most of whom are now living in the northern Lebanon.

And the World Food Programme reports that it has started distributing food to nearly 7,000 Lebanese civilians in the Syrian capital, Damascus, who fled Lebanon over the last two weeks.

LEBANON: ANNAN IS PUSHING HARD FOR AGREEMENT ON WAY AHEAD

In an interview yesterday with an Arabic satellite news channel, the Secretary-General said that, during his meeting with the Security Council members yesterday, he reiterated his call for them to unite on a way forward leading to a cessation of hostilities, a longer-term ceasefire, a political framework that will resolve the problem once and for all, and the deployment of an international force to the south to help the Lebanese Government extend its authority throughout the territory. He said the Council members sense the urgency.

The Secretary-General also warned that if urgent measures are not taken, the fighting could escalate and possibly spread.

He predicted that the outlines of a political settlement could start to take shape in the coming days. But, he added, the Council will need to firm it up and enshrine it in a resolution.

For his part, the Secretary-General is pushing very hard for agreement among the members and in the meantime continues to press for a cessation of hostilities. In this conflict, he pointed out, it is the civilians who are paying the price: women, children and unarmed civilians.

Asked about the Security Councils reaction to the Qana attack, the Secretary-General said the Council statement was weaker than he would have wanted. He added that the vast majority of the Council members would have preferred stronger language. And UN officials, including the High Commissioner for Human Rights, have done their duty in speaking out. He also welcomed the European Union statement.

Asked about the Deputy Secretary-Generals recent comments to the press on the Middle East and why he felt that he should give his views to Member States, Fawzi said the Deputy Secretary-General had a responsibility and duty to speak out, when he felt it was important, about issues that were of grave concern to Member States and that were connected to international peace and security.

Asked about views from countries about whether to have a multinational force or a UN force in Lebanon, Ahmad Fawzi, the Middle East spokesperson, said it was clear that different countries had different opinions. He added that the Security Council was discussing what kind of force was most appropriate and that the United Nations would take into consideration what was acceptable to the parties.

Asked for details as to why the troop-contributing countries meeting had been postponed again, Fawzi said there was still no agreed political framework for ending the conflict. Since that framework was essential to determining the mandate of the force, it had seemed wise to delay the meeting until there was agreement on it. There had been hope that an agreement would have been reached by Thursday, but Member States needed a bit more time.

Asked what the Secretary-General envisioned happening on the ground in the time period between a cessation of hostilities and the arrival of a multinational force, especially with respect to UNIFIL, Fawzi said the Secretary-General was calling for a cessation of hostilities to allow the humanitarians to reach those in need and to allow the politicians to work on the needed political framework for a longer term ceasefire. As for what happened in between, the United Nations expected both sides to refrain from military activity and to stop the killing.

As to what UNIFIL could do until the multinational force came in, he said UNIFILs mandate was not as robust as the kind of mandate that would be associated with a stabilization force. Nevertheless, UNIFIL would continue to do the brave and important work they were doing at the moment.

SOMALIA: U.N. HUMANITARIAN ASSESSMENT MISSION VISITS CAPITAL

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, said today that the political process in Somalia had reached a critical stage and that he was encouraged by the meeting and spirit of yesterdays policy declaration by the Council of Ministers of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

The UN Political Office for Somalia said that the Council of Ministers has agreed to adhere strictly to the UN Security Council arms embargo on Somalia and to uphold other key UN policies.

Meanwhile, a UN humanitarian assessment team today undertook a one-day mission to Mogadishu to identify ways of scaling up aid activities in the Somali capital. They should be arriving back in Nairobi today.

COMMISSION OF INQUIRY TO VISIT TIMOR-LESTE NEXT WEEK

The Independent Special Commission of Inquiry for Timor-Leste, which the Secretary-General appointed to examine the violence that took place in that country this past April and May, will

make a working visit to the country next week.

The Commissions Executive Director, Luc CotÚ, said that the Commission has begun its work through a Dili-based Secretariat, adding that the investigation is progressing well. The Commissions three members, led by Paulo SÚrgio Pinheiro, will now arrive in Timor-Leste shortly.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECURITY COUNCIL CONSIDERS MONTHLY PROGRAMME: This morning the Security Council held consultations on its programme of work for the month. The Ghanaian Ambassador, Nana Effah-Apenteng, who is currently the President of the Security Council, briefed the press on that.

ANNAN TO REPORT ON DOWNSIZING OF UN MISSION IN ETHIOPIA AND ERITREA (UNMEE): In response to question about the downsizing of UNMEE by 1,000 troops, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General would analyze the impact of the Security Council decision to downsize the mission in his next report to Council due out in September.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055


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