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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-08-03

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

ARCHIVES

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY FARHAN HAQ

ASSOCIATE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

WITH

AHMAD FAWZI, DIRECTOR OF THE NEWS AND MEDIA DIVISION,

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INFORMATION

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, August 3, 2006

ANNAN VERY CONCERNED BY VIOLENCE IN SRI LANKA

The Secretary-General is very concerned about the increasing violence in Sri Lanka, and the escalation that has resulted from a water dispute in the northeast. He is disturbed by reports that there have been many civilian victims, including children, as well as large displacements of people. He calls on the parties to allow humanitarian agencies unimpeded access to the affected population.

The Secretary-General notes the efforts underway by Norway to resolve the conflict, and calls on the parties to cease hostilities immediately to create a conducive climate for negotiations over the water issue. He reiterates his appeal to the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to resume peace talks.

Asked if the UN was doing anything to further the peace process in Sri Lanka besides expressing concern, the Spokesman said that the UN was supporting Norway, which was in the lead, and encouraging the sides to work towards peace.

ANNAN ARRIVES IN HAITI

The Secretary-General has arrived in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, where he is to meet later this afternoon with President René Préval and other senior officials.

While in Haiti, he will also meet with the staff of the UN peacekeeping mission to that country.

The trip to Haiti has been abbreviated a bit, since the Secretary-General had to reschedule his departure to this morning, after the plane he was on yesterday was unable to take off due to a technical problem. Tomorrow, he is scheduled to meet President Leonel Fernandez in an official visit to the Dominican Republic.

HEAVY FIGHTING CONTINUES IN MIDDLE EAST

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon reports that Hezbollah fired the largest number of rockets within a 24-hour period since the outbreak of hostilities from various locations. Meanwhile, it says, the Israeli Defense Forces continued intensive shelling and aerial bombardment all across the south.

The UN Mission reports that fifteen Lebanese civilians and six US citizens from Marun Al Ras remain inside the UN position in that area. Attempts to relocate them out of the area are still ongoing.

It adds that humanitarian convoys to two other areas in southern Lebanon are planned for today, but the ability to move the convoys will depend on the situation on the ground.

Asked if the body of the fourth UN military observer who had been killed at Khiam had been found, the Middle East spokesperson said no. The UN had been unable to continue the search because of continued shelling in and around the area.

U.N. AGENCIES WORK TO ALLEVIATE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN LEBANON

Thousands of people have left Tyre, in southern Lebanon, over the past two days, sinking Tyres population from over 100,000 to around 15,000 people. Tomorrow there will be a joint UN humanitarian assessments mission to Tyre

The World Food Programme (WFP) reports that a planned convoy from Beirut to Jezzine was postponed until tomorrow because WFP did not have the necessary armoured escort vehicles in Beirut.

Meanwhile, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says it is helping to transform an old railway depot in greater Beirut into a temporary shelter site for 800-1000 displaced people. UNHCR also reports that yesterday it handed out mattresses, blankets and kitchen sets in two Lebanese Governorates.

The World Health Organization is concerned about water and sanitation problems increasing the risk of infectious diseases, especially since diarrhoea has been reported in schools sheltering displaced people. And UNICEF notes that it has provided emergency supplies and family packs with mattresses, blankets, buckets and soap to people made homeless by the bombardment of Qana.

Asked where those Lebanese who had been displaced from southern Lebanon were going, the Middle East spokesperson said they were moving north, some across the border into Syria, and some to Beirut.

Asked how many Lebanese had crossed into Syria as a result of the current crisis, it was later added that the UN refugee agencys preliminary figure was between 140,000 and 150,000. In addition, some 5,000 displaced Lebanese were arriving in Syria daily.

Asked to what extent southern Lebanon was being depopulated, the Middle East spokesperson said many people in southern Lebanon were leaving their homes, and he reiterated the example of Tyre. Overall, however, it was difficult to give precise figures, especially since the situation was evolving so rapidly, and the UN did not have people in every village to conduct a census.

Asked for updates on the fuel situation, Fawzi said it was easing somewhat. Lebanon was, however, still waiting for 2 shipments that were currently held up in Cyprus.

ENVIRONMENTAL AGENCY CONCERNED BY MIDDLE EAST OIL SPILL

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

reports that the oil spilled caused by Israels bombing of a power plant has reached the Syrian coastline.

Already, the spill has polluted over 80 kilometres of the Lebanese coastline and now 10 miles of Syrias coast as well.

UNEP is calling for urgent action to stem the damage, warning that the oil could spread further, causing even more pollution.

The agency has a regional seas network which is working to help the Lebanese Government through its marine pollution emergency centre. Seven countries in the region have also come forward with help.

U.N. AGENCIES DEEPLY ALARMED BY GAZA VIOLENCE

The following is a statement by UN humanitarian agencies working in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The United Nations humanitarian agencies working in the occupied Palestinian territory are deeply alarmed by the impact continuing violence is having on civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza, which has resulted in a sharp decline in the humanitarian situation facing 1.4 million people, more than half of them children. We are concerned that with international attention focusing on Lebanon, the tragedy in Gaza is being forgotten.

We estimate that since 28 June, 175 Palestinians have been killed, including approximately 40 children and eight women, and over 620 injured in the Gaza Strip. One IDF soldier has been killed and 25 Israelis have been injured, including 11 Israelis injured by homemade rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. Palestinians have fired on average between 8-9 homemade rockets per day towards Israel (319 in total) and the Israeli military has fired on average 200-250 artillery shells per day into the Gaza Strip and conducted at least 220 aerial bombings. The latest IDF incursion in the area around the Gaza Airport overnight has left eight Palestinians dead, including a 12 year-old girl and 20 injured.

UNRWA estimates that at least 475 families have fled their homes in the area and are now being sheltered in an UNRWA school in nearby Rafah.

These facts speak for themselves. Closures must be lifted, bearing in mind Israels legitimate security concerns. Gaza must be given back the capacity to export its goods. Both the Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza and the disproportionate shelling by the IDF must stop. The United Nations stands firmly by its commitments to uphold the dignity of the Israelis and the people of Gaza - and the right of both sides to live in peace and security."

NEPAL: U.N. MISSION ENDS WITH CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM

On Nepal, the visit of the UN assessment mission concluded today with a sense of cautious optimism, according to a statement by team leader Staffan de Mistura.

After conducting extensive meetings and field visits, the mission settled on four concrete areas in which the UN, with the support of all sides, could positively contribute to the peace process. Those are: arms and armies management; electoral assistance; helping to monitor the code of conduct; and expanding human rights activities in Nepal.

The mission reports that all parties wanted to continue the peace process, and that all understood that the basis for going forward was the implementation of the Eight Point Agreement.

SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON LEBANON & CONGOLESE ELECTIONS

The Security Council held consultations this morning on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Lebanon, and other matters.

Regarding the DRC, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno briefed on the countrys recent elections. The Council later moved into a formal meeting to adopt a Presidential Statement on that topic.

On Lebanon, the Council was briefed by Guéhenno on the continuing heavy exchanges of fire between the Israeli Defense Forces and Hezbollah along the entire length of the Blue Line.

The Security Council also heard from Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Margareta Wahlstrom on the humanitarian situation in Lebanon.

ANNAN CALLS FOR ONE-YEAR EXTENSION OF U.N. MISSION IN IRAQ

The Secretary-General, in a letter to the Security Council President, asks the Council for a one-year extension of the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq. The current mandate expires on 11 August.

The Secretary-General notes in the letter that the United Nations will provide strong support in developing an International Compact for Iraq, which he describes as a new partnership between Iraq and the international community. The Compact was formally launched last week.

He adds that the UN Mission in Iraq has further grown in size and expanded its activities beyond Baghdad, as far as the security situation permits. A total of 396 international civilian and military personnel are in the country now.

Asked if the UN was focusing too much on Lebanon and forgetting Iraq, the Spokesman replied that the UN was keeping up its activities in Iraq. Last week, for example, the UN had launched with the Government of Iraq the International Compact for Iraq. It had also put out a human rights report on Iraq. In addition, the Secretary-Generals letter to the Security Council today on the UN Mission in Iraq detailed what the UN Mission was doing on the ground.

Asked for more information about the International Compact for Iraq, the Spokesman drew attention to a recent press release containing additional details.

BURUNDI: U.N. CONCERNED BY COUP ATTEMPT AND ARRESTS

The United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB) today expressed its deep concern at the reports of a coup attempt and the consequent arrests of some political figures in the past few days in Burundi.

These events, the Mission says, constitute a threat and may jeopardize the commendable achievements of the peace process in Burundi.

The UN Mission is profoundly concerned about allegations of torture and reiterates its demand to the Government authorities for access to the detainees.

EFFORTS CONTINUING ON U.N. FORCE IN DARFUR

Asked about a report by the Secretary-General on Dafur, the Spokesman said he could not comment on the report until it became public.

Asked to respond to comments that the UN was trying to starve the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) of money, the Spokesman said he had not seen the particular comments to which the reporter was referring. Nevertheless, it would be strange for anyone to say that the UN was trying to starve AMIS of cash, especially since the Secretary-General had recently gone to Bruissels to co-chair a pledging conference to raise money for AMIS.

In response to a further question, the Spokesman said the UN was continuing its efforts with Sudan on progress towards a UN force in Darfur. The idea of such a force was also still on the table in the Security Council. Meanwhile, the UN Mission in Sudan was continuing its work in the southern part of the country.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

DEPUTY SOMALIA ENVOY APPOINTED: The United Nations today announced the appointment of Per Lindgarde as Deputy Special Representative for Somalia. Lindgarde is a Swedish national who has had a long career with the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

U.N. ENVOY CONGRATULATES WINNERS OF KABUL GIRLS FOOTBALL COMPETITION: UN Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan Ameerah Haq presented a trophy this morning to the winners of the first-ever Kabul Girls Football Competition. Haq calls the event a milestone for young Afghan women, who just five years ago were not even allowed to attend school, let alone play sports.

ANNAN CONDEMNS CALLS FOR DESTRUCTION OF COUNTRIES: Asked about the Secretary-Generals reaction to the Iranian Presidents call for the destruction of Israel, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General condemned any call for the destruction of a Member State. According to the UN Charter, Member States should not threaten one another.

ANNAN SPEAKS WITH BLAIR & RICE: Asked if the Secretary-General had spoken to British Prime Minister Tony Blair or any US officials recently, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General had spoken with Blair this morning and with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday.

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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