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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-08-31

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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 STEPHANE DUJARRIC

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, August 31, 2006

SECURITY COUNCIL DECIDES TO EXPAND U.N. MISSION TO DARFUR

The Security Council met this morning and adopted a resolution on Sudan. The vote was 12 in favour with three abstentions.

The resolution decides to expand the UN Missions mandate to Darfur and invites the consent of the Sudanese Government for the deployment.

It calls for the strengthening of the UN force to Darfur by up to 17,300 military personnel and by an appropriate civilian component including some 3,300 civilian police.

In other Council-related news, today is the last day of the Security Council Presidency under Ghana.

Starting tomorrow, Greece assumes the presidency of the Council for the month of September.

U.N. DEPLOYMENT WOULD BE BEST FOR PEACE IN DARFUR, ANNAN SAYS

In a letter to the President of Sudan,

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has noted his deep concern that the Governments Plan for the Restoration of Stability and Protection of Civilians in Darfur fails to provide for the envisaged transition from the African Union to a UN operation in Darfur.

In that letter, which is being shared with Security Council members, the Secretary-General stresses that the United Nations remains convinced that the deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation would be the most appropriate approach to achieving lasting and sustainable peace in Darfur. He goes on to say that only such an impartial peacekeeping force, with adequate resources and capacity, can effectively support the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement.

The Secretary-General says he looks forward to continuing consultations with the Sudanese government with a view to reaching a successful and expeditious conclusion on this important matter.

He also expresses his serious concern over the deployment of a large number of Sudanese troops to Darfur.

Asked what the Secretary-General can do to persuade the Sudanese Government to accept UN peacekeepers in Darfur, the Spokesman said the Secretary-General will continue his ongoing dialogue with the Sudanese authorities in order to get some movement on that issue.

But we also expect Member States, not only members of the Security Council but other African countries and Arab countries who have influence with Sudan to pursue that same line, Dujarric said.

U.N. CONDEMNS DEATH OF HUMANITARIAN WORKER IN DARFUR

The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) has condemned the death of another humanitarian worker in

Darfur.

The latest death this time of a staff member of the International Committee for the Red Cross, who disappeared during a hijacking incident in North Darfur brings the number of aid workers killed in the region this year to twelve, almost all in the last two months.

UNMIS is calling on everyone in Darfur to recognize the neutrality of all humanitarian staff, and the vital work that they are doing, and to ensure their safety.

ANNAN BEGINS VISIT TO SYRIA AFTER MEETING WITH JORDANIAN MONARCH

The Secretary-General was in Jordan this morning where he met with King Abdullah II as well the Foreign Minister of Jordan.

In his discussions with the King, the Secretary-General raised a number of issues including the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the implementation of

resolution 1701. He spoke to reporters before leaving Jordan.

The Secretary-General is now in Damascus, where he is meeting with the UN country team, before meeting with the Foreign Minister of Syria. Tomorrow he is expected to meet with the President of Syria.

Asked if the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy, Terje Roed-Larsen, was accompanying the Secretary-General to Damascus, the Spokesman said he was."

Asked about the source for statements made by the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, about unexploded cluster bombs in southern Lebanon, the Spokesman said that the source was the Mine Action Coordination Centre of South Lebanon (MACC-SL), which is run by the UN Mine Action Service, part of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, in coordination with a non-governmental organization called the Mine Advisory Group.

Asked how MACC-SL knows about the amount of the unexploded cluster bombs, the Spokesman said it was from first-hand observation by staff who remained in the area and from information gathered from hospitals.

LEBANESE ARMY DEPLOYS IN SOUTHEAST LEBANON

The UN Interim Force for Lebanon (UNIFIL) reports that the Lebanese Army is now deploying in the general area of Bastra and in areas in southeastern Lebanon, which were yesterday vacated by the Israeli Army. UN peacekeepers had earlier patrolled these areas to confirm the Israeli withdrawal, in accordance with the terms of the cessation of hostilities.

UN forces also report that its Chinese de-mining team has disabled and disposed of some 250 unexploded ordnance, while the UN Mine Action Coordination Center has carried out controlled demolition of over 300 unexploded ordnance.

UN peacekeepers also distributed some 40,000 litres of water and provided medical assistance to villagers in south Lebanon.

Asked who fired the rocket which destroyed a building in Tyre during the recent conflict, and in the process killed several people including a UN staff member, the Spokesman said the information the United Nations possesses indicated that it was an Israeli rocket.

Asked for an update on the deployment of UN peacekeepers, the Spokesman noted that some Spanish troops are already on the ground, and 1,000 Italian solders are expected over the weekend as well as some elements of the expected French contingent.

Asked if the Israeli naval blockade was allowing some vessels and supplies through, the Spokesman said humanitarian goods and some passenger traffic are currently being allowed past the blockade.

FOOD RATIONS HANDED OUT IN SOUTH BEIRUT

Municipal workers today handed out food rations from the World Food Programme (WFP) to vulnerable families in Beirut's southern suburbs.

Todays rations included packets of vegetable oil, lentils, canned vegetables and high-energy biscuits. Earlier this week, those in need were given traditional Lebanese bread, baked locally with WFP wheat flour. WFP was specifically targeting families who could no longer bake their own bread, due to unliveable apartments, or electricity and water cuts.

Authorities in all four municipalities in south Beirut say they will hand out WFP rations to more than 100,000 people over the coming weeks.

LEBANON: FALLEN U.N. STAFF MEMBER REMEMBERED

The UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus says that Under-Secretary for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno today attended the memorial service for Augustine Bielonwu, a civilian staff member of the UN Interim Force for Lebanon (UNIFIL), who was killed on 17 July during the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, when an Israeli rocket hit the building where he lived in Tyre. Four other UNIFIL staff members died in the same conflict.

In his eulogy, Guéhenno praised Bielonwus service to the UN and recalled the dangers braved by UN peacekeeping personnel in pursuing the mandate and ideals of the Organization.

Bielonwu is among 258 UNIFIL staff members who have died while in service with the mission since the inception of that operation.

INT'L COMMUNITY MUST RESPOND QUICKLY TO HELP LEBANON REBUILD

The Deputy Secretary-General, Mark Malloch Brown,

addressed the International Conference on Lebanon in Stockholm earlier today.

He said the challenge for the international community is two-fold: to respond to Lebanons immediate needs, and to get the Government-led recovery off to a determined start in the weeks ahead even as preparations begin for an international conference on the countrys longer-term needs.

He noted that despite a continuing Israeli air and sea blockade, urgently needed supplies are reaching those in need but he also called for an immediate end to that blockade and for a political solution to the underlying causes of the conflict.

Otherwise aid risks substituting for the real oxygen of recovery, private investment, which will stay away if the risk of conflict remains high, he said.

SIERRA LEONE: GROWING POLITICAL INTOLERANCE

THREATENS ECONOMIC RECOVERY

Available today is a report of the Secretary-General on Sierra Leone. In it, the Secretary-General says that there has been a significant improvement in the countrys economic performance over the past few years. However, this improvement is at risk of being upset by growing intolerance among political party leaders and their supporters ahead of general elections in July 2007.

The Secretary-General also reports that the security situation, meanwhile, remains stable but fragile in the wake of the transfer of former Liberian President Charles Taylor to The Hague to face war crime charges.

UNITED NATIONS IS WORKING WITH TIMORESE

TO APPREHEND ESCAPED PRISONERS

The UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT)

says that UN police, along with international counterparts, have set up a task force to help apprehend the 57 prisoners who escaped from Becora Prison, east of Dili, yesterday.

UN police are taking the lead role in the coordination of the task force, which will ensure the security of the population while pursuing the escapees. Military backup, if necessary, will be provided by the Joint Task Force in Timor-Leste.

Witness statements have been collected from those present at and around the prison at the time of the escape, and prison guards have also been interviewed as part of a preliminary investigation.

UNMIT is recommending that the Timorese Government undertakes a thorough review of the internal security and the prison management throughout the country.

AFGHANISTAN POPPY CULTIVATION RISES IN 2006

Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), will give a preview of his Offices 2006 Afghan Opium Poppy Survey at a press conference this Saturday in Kabul. Also in attendance will be Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

According to UNODC, poppy cultivation in Afghanistan will show an increase in 2006 after a fall in 2005. During Saturdays press conference, UNODC will post a press release with more details on its web site. And the full report will be launched on 12 September in Brussels.

TRADE & DEVELOPMENT BODY LAUNCHES NEW REPORT

The UN Conference on Trade and Development today

launched its Trade and Development Report 2006, entitled Global partnership and national policies for development.

The report contends that the multilateral trading and financial systems must take better account of the unevenness between developed and developing countries, and allow the latter to pursue development policies in a flexible manner.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

U.N. PLANS TO GIVE FOOD TO ECUADOR VOLCANO SURVIVORS: The World Food Programme is planning to distribute food rations to 25, 000 people in Ecuador, following the volcanic eruption in that country two weeks ago.

ETHIOPIA-ERITREA OFFICE GETS NEW HEAD: In response to a question asked earlier this week, the Spokesman said Joseph Stephanides has been appointed as head of the Addis Ababa office of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea. The appointment is at the D-2 level and was effective as of 15 August.

U.N. SEEKS EXPLANATION FROM ERITREA ON ARREST OF U.N. STAFF: Asked about the reported arrest of UN staff members by the Eritrean Government in relation to allegations of people smuggling, the Spokesman said there had been one arrest made and the United Nations sought an explanation from the Eritrean authorities about the arrest.

SUBSIDIES MUST BE DECLARED TO HUMAN RESOURCES: Asked to whom UN officials under the rank of director must disclose the receipt of a housing subsidy, the Spokesman said that information must be disclosed to the UN Office of Human Resources Management.

COMMUNICATIONS CHIEF ON ANNUAL LEAVE: In response to questions about efforts by the Under-Secretary-General for Public Information and Communication, Shashi Tharoor, to attain the post of Secretary-General, the Spokesman declined to comment, but noted that Tharoor is on leave through September and not conducting official UN business. Asked what kind of leave Tharoor is on, the Spokesman later said annual leave.

ANNAN OPTIMISTIC ON IRAN & OTHER ISSUES: Asked if the Secretary-General harboured any hope still for a last-minute solution to the issue of Iranian compliance with the Security Councils resolution, the Spokesman said he had no comment to make, noting that the Security Council has just received the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report. The Secretary-General is eternally optimistic and he always hopes for a positive outcome, Dujarric added

MRS. ANNAN NOT A WALLENBERG FUND BENEFICIARY: In response to a previous question, Nane Annan, the Secretary-Generals wife, is not a recipient of dividends from the Wallenberg Family Trust. She is in no way a beneficiary of that entity.

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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