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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-08-28

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 STEPHANE DUJARRIC

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, August 28, 2006

ANNAN HAILS AGREEMENT ON RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

Secretary-General Kofi Annan hails the agreement reached by a committee of the General Assembly last Friday night on a new treaty on the rights of persons with disabilities, to be adopted by the Assembly during its coming session, as a historic achievement for the 650 million people with disabilities around the world.

He notes that people with disabilities have hitherto lacked adequate protection, and hopes that this long overdue Convention will mark the beginning of a new era in which they will have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. He urges all Member States to ratify the Convention and ensure its rapid implementation.

ANNAN CALLS FOR LIFTING OF LEBANON BLOCKADE

In Beirut, the Secretary-General met with Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and his Cabinet. Following the meeting, the Secretary-General took part in a joint press conference, in which he called for the lifting of the Israeli blockade and the return of the captured Israeli soldiers. He also stressed the importance of having one law, one authority and one gun in Lebanon.

Earlier today, the Secretary-General was greeted at the Beirut airport by Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh. Upon arrival, the Secretary-General said, This is a very critical time for Lebanon, and I think it is important that I come here myself to discuss with the Lebanese authorities the aftermath of the war and the measures being taken to implement UN resolutions and also to underscore international solidarity.

The Secretary-General also met today with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, and is scheduled to meet this evening with Serge Brammertz, head of the International Independent Investigation Commission into the assassination of Rafik Hariri, before attending a working dinner hosted by Prime Minister Saniora. Alain Pelligrini, head of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) will also be at that dinner.

ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL, LEBANESE DEPLOYMENT IN SOUTH LEBANON

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon reports that the UN Force Commander met earlier today with the senior commanders of both the Lebanese and the Israeli Armies inside the UNIFIL position at Ras Naqoura. The commanders discussed how to further coordinate the continued Israeli withdrawal and Lebanese deployment in southern Lebanon.

UNIFIL says that the meeting was productive and will be followed with other meetings in the near future.

Asked about claims that the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was disseminating information on its website during the recent conflict which Hezbollah could use to discern where Israeli troop movements were taking place, the Spokesman said that UNFIL was performing its observer role throughout the fighting from its 19 observer posts.

The Spokesman said press releases issued by UNFIL did not contain information which could be construed as military intelligence. Numbers of troops were not published, Dujarric said. It has also consistently reported on the presence of Hezbollah fighters whenever these fighters were positioned near UNIFIL positions.

The Spokesman added that UNFIIL has not received any complaints from the Israeli Defense Forces for the press releases it issued.

Asked about the assertion that there was no Hezbollah presence within five kilometers of the bombed UN observer post at Kayan, the Spokesman said he had no comment as the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations board of inquiry is going to visit the area to carry out its investigation into the bombing.

Asked about a meeting of troop-contributing countries for the expanded UNIFIL, the Spokesman said there was a technical meeting being held on Monday afternoon and it involved military advisors from troop-contributing countries.

The Spokesman said it was hoped that the meeting would lead to firmer details of offers to send troops to the expanded UNIFIL, as well as provide timelines for their deployment.

We remain very confident that we can see the first elements of the vanguard force deploy within the next few days in southern Lebanon, Dujarric said. Obviously, the meeting this afternoon will give us a more clarity. He added that it would include European countries as well as a number of non-European countries.

Asked if the first elements of the vanguard force would be deployed along the border with Syria, the Spokesman said it would primarily be in southern Lebanon and the issue of the borders and any UN assistance there would be looked at with the Lebanese Government.

HUMANITARIAN SUPPLIES DELIVERED TO THOUSANDS IN LEBANON

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that nine UN convoys left Beirut today and over the weekend, carrying food, water and medical supplies.

The World Food Programme reports that, since 23 July, it has delivered more than 4,000 tons of food to approximately 547,000 people in Lebanon. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has helped the Lebanese Ministry of Health to launch a campaign to disinfect debris and rubble in destroyed buildings in the southern suburbs of Beirut.

Regarding mine clearance, as of today, more than 1,600 cluster bomb units and 11 other unexploded ordnance have been destroyed by UN teams.

LIFELINE TO THREE MILLION PEOPLE IN DARFUR IS AT RISK OF COLLAPSE

The Security Council held a closed meeting on Sudan in the Council chamber.

Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, warned Council members that the entire humanitarian operation in Darfur is at risk and appealed for immediate action on the political front. "

If that operation -- the only lifeline for more than three million people in Darfur were to collapse, Egeland said the lives of hundreds of thousands could be needlessly lost.

UNITED NATIONS WELCOMES TRUCE IN NORTHERN UGANDAN CONFLICT

Egeland has welcomed the signing on Saturday of an official cessation of hostilities between the Government of Uganda and the Lords Resistance Army.

According to a press release from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Egeland said, I am pleased to hear of this important step forward in the ongoing peace talks. I urge both parties to continue the positive momentum.

Egeland is expected to visit northern Uganda, as well as the ongoing peace talks in Juba, Sudan, as part of his forthcoming mission to Africa. The 8-day mission, which also includes the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is scheduled to begin on 5 September.

Asked if Egelands reaction reflected a softening of the United Nations stance towards indictments issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for some LRA leaders, the Spokesman said there was no softening and the indictments stand and need to be honored. There is a humanitarian dimension to what is going on in Uganda and hes obviously addressing that as well, Dujarric said.

In response to a question, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General believes that the individuals indicted should face justice, and that all countries have a responsibility to aid the ICC. He added that a lack of resources prevents the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the UN Mission in Sudan from proactively searching for these individuals.

CONGOLESE REBEL CHARGED WITH CONSCRIPTING CHILDREN

The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court reports that Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a former leader of a militia group at war in the North Eastern Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has been formally charged by the ICC Prosecutor with enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15 and using them to participate actively in hostilities.

A confirmation hearing has been set for 28 September.

If the charges are confirmed, Lubangas case will mark the first time that an individual is brought before an international court solely on the basis of these crimes.

CALM RETURNS TO D.R. CONGO AS VOTE RESULTS ARE PUBLISHED

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) says the past weekend in Kinshasa was a calm and peaceful one, with people going about their normal business as usual.

The head of the UN Mission, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative there, William Swing, is encouraging President Joseph Kabila and Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba the candidates who will face each other in a run-off vote in October to meet.

Swing says that Kabila and Bemba have to continue the process in line with the engagement they undertook in June 2003 with the inauguration of the transitional Government, and he promised to keep in close contact with the pair.

On the electoral side, the Independent Electoral Commission published this weekend the first partial results of the legislative elections for 35 of the

Democratic Republic of the Congos 169 districts.

U.N. BUILDING NEEDS TO BE BROUGHT IN LINE

WITH 21ST CENTURY SAFETY STANDARDS

Asked about comments made by U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer that the UN Secretariat building in New York is a fire hazard, the Spokesman said the United Nations agrees with much of what Senator Schumer said.

This building is not up to [fire] code, it is a hazard not only to those of us who work in this building, but also the first responders of the city of New York who would respond to any major emergencies in this building, Dujarric said.

He added that these are some of the reasons that the Secretary-General has pushed for the Capital Master Plan so that the building could be brought in line with 21st century safety standards.

Asked about plans to temporarily shift the UN Secretariat to another building while the existing one is renovated, the Spokesman said the Secretary-Generals progress report on the Capital Master Plan which contains an update on the design work of the swing space, and the funding proposals for the renovation is being finalized now.

We should have it out in a few weeks, Dujarric said, adding that the General Assembly is scheduled to take up the issue in September.

Asked if Senator Schumer could do anything to help expedite efforts to have the UN Secretariat building renovated, the Spokesman said the United Nations would hope that the Senator could use his influence to help secure the necessary funding.

And of course we would hope that the U.S., like other Member States, approves the funding we need to put the program in to operation, Dujarric said.

DEATH OF PEACEKEEPERS MOURNED IN COTE-DIVOIRE

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Côte dIvoire, Pierre Schori, announces with deep regret the death of six Bangladeshi soldiers of the UN force in Côte dIvoire who lost their lives in a road accident on 25 August 2005. Twelve other peacekeepers were injured in the accident, which occurred near the town of Tiassalé, on the road between Abidjan and Yamoussoukro.

Schori deeply regrets this tragedy, which has plunged the UN Mission in Côte dIvoire (UNOCI) into mourning, and shares the grief of the families of the departed peacekeepers.

U.N. CONDEMNS GRENADE ATTACK IN KOSOVO

The UN Secretary-Generals Acting Special Representative in Kosovo, Steve Schook, condemned a grenade attack in North Mitrovica which injured 9 civilians over the weekend.

He expressed his sympathy to the victims and their families.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

U.N. ENVOY TO ATTEND MEETING ON SOMALIA: The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, is expected to brief members of the International Contact Group on Somalia tomorrow in Stockholm. Fall will report on the current situation in Somalia.

GAZA ECONOMY NEAR COLLAPSE: The World Food Programme (WFP)

says the situation in

Lebanon must not be allowed to overshadow the rapidly deteriorating living conditions of the people in Gaza. WFP says the economy there is reaching rock bottom, with industries that were once the backbone of Gazas economy and food system, such as the agriculture and fishing industries, suffocated by the current situation and at risk of losing all viability.

ANNAN CONCERNED ABOUT DETENTION OF PALESTINIAN LAWMAKERS: Asked about the abduction and detention of Palestinian legislators by Israel, the Spokesman said the Secretary-General has already expressed his concerned about the situation. [He] does not believe it helps build the future of a two-state solution by going on with these types of operations, Dujarric said.

ETHICS OFFICE PROBES ALLEGED RENTAL SUBSIDIES OF U.N OFFICIALS: Asked about reports that some Member States provide housing subsidies to some UN officials, the Spokesman said the issue was being dealt with through the completion of financial disclosure forms by officials, and by the UN Ethics Office.

STRONGER PORT SECURITY TO FIGHT AGAINST ILLEGAL FISHING: The Food Agriculture Organization said today that the future of the capture fisheries sector depends on wider implementation of stronger and more effective port controls. Stronger port security is key to fight against illegal fishing. Each year, the capture fisheries sector provides over 105 million tones of food and 40 million jobs.

IMPROVING WORKING CONDITIONS REPORTED IN ASIAS FACTORIES: Asia's ability to sustain its impressive economic growth and competitive edge will depend greatly on the ability of governments and companies to ensure the benefits are shared by employers, the workforce and the wider population. This is the conclusion of a new report on the region's economic and social trends, prepared for the Asian Regional Meeting of the International Labour Organization.

  • ** The guest today was Don MacKay, Chairman of the General Assembly Ad Hoc Committee which, last Friday, finalized the first convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. He gave an assessment of the new Convention and its expected impact.

    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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