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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-06-20

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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 MICHELE

MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

U.N.

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

BAN KI-MOON CONDEMNS SPATE OF ATTACKS IN AFGHANISTAN

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has learned with great concern about the recent increase in violence in Afghanistan, in particular the massive bomb attack against an Afghan Police Academy bus in Kabul on Sunday. More than 30 Afghans were killed in the incident and dozens more injured. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, the deadliest of its kind in Afghanistans capital city since their fall in 2001.

Over the past few days, there has been a spate of similar attacks in other parts of the country, reportedly claiming the lives of dozens of civilians, including 11 children.

The Secretary-General condemns these acts in the strongest possible terms, which reflect an inexcusable disregard for the value of human life.

The Secretary-General notes the efforts of the Afghan and international forces to counter the threat posed by insurgent and other anti-government elements. However, he has learned with deep sadness of reports of the death of seven Afghan children resulting from a Coalition air strike in Paktika province on Sunday.

The Secretary-General sends his deep condolences to the Government of Afghanistan and to the bereaved families of all the victims of this past weekends violence. The Secretary-General calls upon the Government of Afghanistan and the international community to take the necessary measures to address the security situation. In doing so, the protection of civilian lives must remain the guiding principle.

SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS WITH CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

The Secretary-General is in Washington, D.C. today to meet with US congressional leaders. He met this morning with Senator Norm Coleman, Senator Bill Nelson and Senator George Voinovich. He is presently at a luncheon meeting with Congressman Tom Lantos.

These meetings focused on UN-US relations including funding, on UN reforms, on peacekeeping operations, on Darfur, Kosovo and Haiti.

The Secretary-General will be back in New York tonight to attend the Human Development awards.

SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES UP MIDDLE EAST

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Michael Williams briefed the Security Council in an open meeting this morning on what he described as a time of crisis in the Middle East.

The violent seizure of de facto political authority in Gaza by Hamas, the end of the Palestinian National Unity Government, and the declaration of a state of emergency by President Mahmoud Abbas have created new political realities and worrying conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, he said. Meanwhile, in Lebanon, renewed violence has threatened the nation's stability.

Williams said that the brutal violence in Gaza and the attacks on the legitimate institutions of President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority government are totally unacceptable and should be condemned.

The Secretary-General regrets the failure of the National Unity Government, and condemns the violence that brought about its demise.

Despite what has happened, Gaza and the West Bank remain one Palestinian territory, legally administered by one Palestinian Authority headed by President Abbas, who has appointed an emergency Government led by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. The Secretary-General telephoned President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad to convey his full support to the new Government.

With the situation in Gaza now stabilizing to some extent, concerns about food and medical shortages are mounting. Re-opening the crossings for commercial and humanitarian imports is the UNs most immediate humanitarian concern, Williams said.

The Security Council open meeting was followed by consultations, also on the Middle East.

GAZA: FOOD SHORTAGES ARE EXPECTED IN COMING WEEKS

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

says crossing points into Gaza remain largely closed, and mechanisms for commercial and humanitarian food imports have yet to be reestablished. Without the reopening of the Karni crossing, general food shortages are expected in the coming weeks, OCHA says.

The World Food Programme (WFP) was, however, able to send seven trucks through the Kerem Shalom crossing yesterday, and nine more trucks today, carrying more than 400 metric tons of food. WFP hopes to move 10 truckloads per day through the crossing. The World Health Organization (WHO) was also able to send in one truckload of urgently needed medical supplies.

Meanwhile, UNICEF is sending vaccines and medical and emergency kits, as well as fuel for urgent sanitation and water needs.

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE

OF U.N. DISENGAGEMENT FORCE IN THE GOLAN HEIGHTS

In addition to its meeting on the Middle East, the Security Council this morning extended by six months the mandate of the UN Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights (UNDOF).

The Security Council also approved a resolution on Liberia, which asked the Secretary-General to establish a Panel of Experts to conduct a follow up assessment mission to that country.

The Council extended the mandate of the Group of Experts on Cote d'Ivoire until the end of October.

SIERRA LEONE: SPECIAL COURT HANDS OUT FIRST JUDGMENTS

The Special Court for Sierra Leone handed out its first judgments today.

Three leaders of Sierra Leones former Armed Forces Revolutionary Council have each been found guilty on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Alex Tamba Brima, Brima Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu were found guilty among other things-- of extermination, murder, rape, enslavement and enlisting children into armed forces. This was the first time an international tribunal ruled on the charge of recruitment of child soldiers.

The sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 16.

ON ITS FINAL STOP IN AFRICAN TRIP, SECURITY COUNCIL MISSION

MEETS WITH DRC PRESIDENT IN KINSHASA

The Security Councils mission to Africa is set to wrap up its final stop in that continent before returning to New York, with Council members now holding their last few meetings in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

When the Council mission arrived in Kinshasa yesterday, they received briefings from the Secretary-Generals Special Representative, William Swing, and other UN officials about the work of the UN Mission in that country.

The Council delegation then met with President Joseph Kabila, with whom they discussed the post-electoral situation in the DRC, security issues and the reform of the military. French Ambassador Jean Marc de la Sabliere, the head of this leg of the Council trip, said that Kabila had brought up proposals for a Great Lakes security summit.

The Council delegation has also met with the countrys acting prime minister and other Cabinet officials, with members of the Senate and National Assembly and with civil society and community leaders.

U.N. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR IRAQ

FORCEFULLY CONDEMNS BOMBING OF AL KHILLANI MOSQUE

Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, forcefully condemned yesterdays bombing of the historically significant Al Khillani Mosque in the heart of Baghdad.

Qazi described the bombing in one of Baghdads busiest areas as especially repugnant because it targeted worshippers leaving the noon prayer, resulting in the death and injury of more than 200 innocent civilians. He warned that the increased targeting of places of worship is aimed at pushing Iraq further into a sectarian war that threatens to engulf the whole country.

Qazi called on all Iraqis to reject violence and opt for unity and reconciliation, and also called on those responsible for law enforcement in Iraq to pursue the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

WESTERN SAHARA TALKS TO RESUME IN AUGUST

Talks carried out under UN auspices on Western Sahara wrapped up late yesterday afternoon at Greentree Estate in Manhasset, on Long Island.

Morocco and the Frente Polisario took part in the two-day meeting, according to a communiqué issued by the Secretary Generals Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Peter van Walsum. Representatives of the neighbouring countries, Algeria and Mauritania, were also present at the opening and closing sessions and consulted separately.

The parties have agreed to meet again in Manhasset during the second week of August.

Asked about the significance of the communiqué issued by the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Western Sahara, the Spokesperson noted that the fact that the two parties had met face-to-face and spoken to one another was an achievement in and of itself, as was the fact that they had decided to meet a second time.

INUIT CLIMATE CHANGE ACTIVIST

TO RECEIVE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AWARD

Tonight, the Secretary-General will present a lifetime achievement

award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Development to the Inuit climate change activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier from Canada. Watt-Cloutier has dedicated her career to protecting the rights of Arctic communities as the world warms around them.

Human Development Awards for 2007 will also be presented to the authors of five reports from China, India, Guinea-Bissau and Costa-Rica alongside an Asia-Pacific regional report on trade.

The ceremony will take place tonight at 6 p.m.

U.N. MISSION IN SUDAN DISCUSSES WAYS TO FURTHER ASSISTANCE TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF PEACE AGREEMENT

The UN Mission in Sudan, in todays briefing notes, notes that, over the weekend, the acting Special Representative for Sudan, Taye Brook Zerihoun, met with the State Minister to the Presidency, Idris Abdel Gadir.

Their discussion focused on a proposal to hold high-level consultations between the UN Mission in Sudan and the Government of National Unity to make the Missions assistance to the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement more focused and effective.

Meanwhile, the UN Mission reported that yesterday, an international NGO-hired vehicle traveling in South Darfur was shot at by an unknown armed man.

On that same day in West Darfur, an international NGO convoy of two vehicles with five staff members was stopped by two unknown armed men, and the staff was robbed of personal effects and communication equipment.

DARFUR: HYBRID FORCE UNDER JOINT UN-AU AUTHORITY

In clarifications to remarks at yesterdays noon briefing, the Spokesperson said that the Hybrid force to be deployed in Darfur is under the authority of a Joint Special Representative who answers to both the UN Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council.

The force itself, as is the case with any Peacekeeping operation, is commanded by a Force Commander, in this case Gen. Martin L. Agwai, himself recently appointed by the AU in close consultation with the UN.

The day-to-day functioning of the mission will be in accordance with the Concept of Operations which has been jointly agreed upon by the UN and the AU.

SECRETARY-GENERAL NAMES DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR NEPAL

The Secretary-General has appointed Tamrat Samuel as his Deputy Special Representative for Nepal and Deputy Head of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN).

Samuel has previously served as the focal point for the Secretary-Generals good offices on the question of East Timor and as Senior Political Affairs officer responsible for the South Asia region within the Department for Political Affairs.

LOUISE ARBOUR EXTENDS HER APPRECIATION FOR

CONSENSUAL BASIS OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCILS WORK

The Human Rights Council today adopted the report of its fifth session, which concluded late Monday. It also adopted by consensus three follow-up resolutions to the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Lebanon, the occupied Palestinian territory, and the situation of human rights in Darfur.

Addressing todays organizational meeting of the Councils second cycle, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour

extended her appreciation to all those who had contributed to launching the Council on a consensual basis and expressed the hope that a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect would remain the Councils hallmark.

The Council will next meet on Friday to continue its organizational meeting.

ON WORLD REFUGEE DAY, BAN KI-MOON CALLS TO SUPPORT

REFUGEES UNTIL THEY RETURN HOME

In a message for World Refugee Day which is today-- the Secretary-General said international solidarity was crucial to meeting the urgent humanitarian needs of refugees and others forcibly displaced.

Stressing that refugees are not exiles by choice, he called for support and understanding to ensure that refugees are cared for and protected until they can return home.

Also marking this day, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres arrived yesterday in Southern Sudan, where tens of thousands of refugees and internally displaced people are returning home after decades of conflict. He addressed this morning the World Refugee Day events held at the Juba way station, and he is also scheduled to visit UNHCR operations in the Yei and Juba areas.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

TWO BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY MEMBERS REQUEST ANNULMENT OF GENOCIDE RULING ON SREBRENICA: Asked about a letter sent two days ago by two members of the Bosnian presidency asking for an annulment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) genocide ruling on Srebrenica, the Spokesperson later said that the Secretary-General had received the letter.

BAN KI-MOON WAS NOT ASKED TO BE KOREAN PENINSULA SPECIAL ENVOY: Asked about the suggestion from a presidential candidate in the Republic of Korea that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon could serve as a special envoy for the Korean Peninsula, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General had not been asked to assume such a role.

U.N. RECEIVED LETTER FROM THE COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS: Asked about a letter from the Committee to Protect Journalists regarding the UNs practice of accrediting only journalists from states recognized by the General Assembly, the Spokesperson said that the letter had been received, but that the Secretary-General was traveling and was not yet aware of it.

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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