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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-06-28

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

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MICHELE

MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

U.N.

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, June 28, 2007

HEAD OF SOMALIAS GOVERNMENT BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL, MEETS WITH SECRETARY-GENERAL

The Security Council heard from the Prime Minister of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, Ali Mohamed Gedi, in a closed meeting this morning.

The Security Council then began consultations, with a view to a formal meeting, on the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met on Wednesday with Prime Minister Gedi, and was encouraged by the Prime Ministers assurances that plans are on track to begin the National Reconciliation Congress next month.

The Secretary-General said it was important for the government to reach out in an effort to ensure that the Congress is inclusive.

The Secretary-General pledged to do his part to encourage troop contributions and other support to the African Union mission, AMISOM, which has a critical role to play in establishing security in the country. He also expressed concern about the humanitarian situation and urged greater cooperation with the humanitarian community working in Somalia.

SECURITY SITUATION IN SOMALIA REMAINS VOLATILE

In the Secretary-Generals latest report on Somalia, he gives an update on the UN role in support of the intra-Somali negotiations to convene a national reconciliation congress, which is now planned for July 15.

He also notes that efforts by the Transitional Federal Government to secure and establish key state institutions in the capital, Mogadishu, continue to face significant resistance from remnants of the deposed Union of Islamic Courts and various subclans of Mogadishus dominant Hawiye clan. Security in the rest of the country, meanwhile, remains volatile due to widespread banditry, lawlessness and intra-clan violence, a situation made even more volatile by the eruption in April of tensions between the Puntland and Somaliland regions.

The Secretary-General also reports on the work of the African Union peace support mission and contingency planning for a possible UN peacekeeping deployment. In view of the enormous needs of Somalia, a UN peacekeeping operation would have to be multidimensional, the Secretary-General says, citing some of the recommendations of a technical assessment mission conducted by UN experts in March.

Condemning the deadly attacks against AU peacekeepers in Somalia, the Secretary-General deplores the continued deterioration of both the security and humanitarian conditions, which has led some 400,000 people between February and late April to flee Mogadishu and the south-central regions.

Increased insecurity, meanwhile, has caused another 3,500 people to flee the capital this month, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which says that another 10,000 people are also reported to have fled the town of Kismayu due to violence between rival clans.

SUDAN: TROOP CONTRIBUTORS FOR HYBRID FORCE TO MEET FRIDAY

Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hédi Annabi on Wednesday told reporters, after his briefing to the Security Council, that a troop contributors meeting has been scheduled for Friday to discuss the African Union-United Nations hybrid operation for

Darfur.

He emphasized that despite the challenges the new hybrid operation could face, the UN and the AU are committed to working together to coordinate their work so that the operation can work as smoothly as possible.

Annabi also indicated that the current focus is on expediting the deployment of the heavy support package.

The Security Council President, meanwhile, said that a draft resolution authorizing the hybrid force was expected to be introduced in the days to come.

In other developments, the UN Mission in Sudan reports a new influx of internally displaced persons at a camp in South Darfur and a grenade explosion in a camp in West Darfur, which killed a six-year-old boy and severely injured at least four other people.

UN RELIEF AGENCY WELCOMES OPENING OF CROSSING INTO GAZA

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) welcomed the opening today of the Karni crossing point between Israel and the Gaza Strip, which allowed 5,000 tonnes of wheat to pass through.

The Agency said that it is crucial that Karni remains open on a permanent basis, and continues to be fully functional. UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness said, If we are to avoid total aid dependency for Gaza, we need to get commercial imports and exports moving.

According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the UN agencies are meeting the basic needs of the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip at present. As of today, they are getting an average 80 to 90 trucks of relief supplies into the territory daily.

Meanwhile, UNRWA says its summer programme for children in Gaza is well underway. Nearly two hundred thousand children are expected to participate in a broad range of recreational and educational activities as part of UNRWAs Summer Games.

Asked about the lack of a statement from the Secretary-General on the recent Israeli incursion into Gaza, the Spokeswoman said that the issue was one that is being followed closely. She noted that the United Nations is present in the area and has been reporting periodically on conditions there.

Montas asserted that the Secretary-Generals concerns are obvious, as seen by his daily phone contacts with leaders on the Middle East.

Asked whether the Secretary-General favours isolating Hamas, the Spokeswoman said he favours a two-state solution, with an Israeli and a Palestinian state.

Asked whether the Secretary-General encourages dialogue between Fatah and Hamas, Montas said that he did.

U.N. LEBANON FORCE COMMANDER MEETS WITH LOCAL AUTHORITIES

The Force Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Major-General Claudio Graziano, today held an open meeting with local authorities from the towns and villages in the eastern sector of UNIFILs area of operations, with the aim of strengthening relations with the local communities.

Graziano said that it is essential that the relations between the UN Mission and the local communities are characterised by trust, confidence and mutual respect.

He added that the recent terrorist attack against UNIFIL peacekeepers would not deter them from carrying out their mission, adding that all UNIFIL troops remain committed more than ever to their mission.

BRAMMERTZ TO HEAD LEBANON INVESTIGATION THROUGH 2007

Asked about reports that Serge Brammerz might replace Carla Del Ponte as prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the Spokeswoman said that Brammertzs contract was recently extended until 31 December and until then, he will be heading the International Independent Investigation Commission for Lebanon.

She added that Del Pontes current contract is due to expire on 15 September. The selection of her replacement will be decided by the Security Council, upon recommendations by the Secretary-General. As of today, the Council has not taken any such decision, and neither has it been seized of the matter. Montas added that she could not confirm media reports on the matter.

U.N. IRAQ ENVOY MEETS WITH TOP IRAQI OFFICIALS

Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, today met the Chair and Deputy Chair of Iraqs Constitutional Review Committee to discuss the progress of the constitutional review process.

Qazi reaffirmed the willingness of the United Nations to continue assisting the Committee in reviewing outstanding technical issues, drawing on its international experience and knowledge of best practice in comparable situations. He added that the UNs technical and advisory role is always carried out at the request of the Government.

COMPENDIUM OF IRAQS WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION PUBLISHED

The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) published on its website its Compendium of Iraqs weapons of mass destruction programmes.

Its a more than 1,000-page document that provides a detailed account of Iraqs chemical and biological warfare programmes and associated delivery systems, as well as UN efforts to map and verify the true extent and nature of Iraqs activities.

The Lessons Learned chapter of this Compendium represents the views of the inspectors themselves and highlights the difficulties faced by inspectors and many of the strengths and weaknesses of the UN inspection system.

Asked whether the UNMOVIC compendium was a justification for the war in Iraq, the Spokeswoman said it was not, and she described it as a normal follow up to the Commissions work.

BALLOT DISTRIBUTION BEGINS AHEAD OF TIMOR-LESTE ELECTIONS

The UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) says that the distribution of ballot papers for this weekends parliamentary elections has begun in both the capital Dili and the main town of the countrys 13 districts. This is being done by the UN in cooperation with the Timorese Secretariat for Electoral Administration.

The Mission says that the ballot papers will be transported from Dili and other district capitals to the 708 polling stations and 520 polling centers by helicopters, vehicles and horses with porters on 29 June. A total of 652,000 ballot papers will be distributed throughout the country and a reserve will be stored in all districts to deal with emergencies contingencies.

SECRETARY-GENERAL COMMITTED TO ACTION AGAINST GENOCIDE

Asked about a letter sent to the Secretary-General by two members of the three-member Bosnian Presidency, the Spokeswoman noted that the Secretary-General would respond to a letter signed by all three members.

Asked whether the lack of reaction to the letter was linked to the lawsuit brought about by the Mothers of Srebrenica, Montas said that the issues were not connected.

Asked whether the Secretary-General has done enough to apply the lessons of Srebrenica and Rwanda, she said that the Secretary-General has a clear position on acts of genocide. Montas said he would do anything in his own power so that decisions taken on those matters by International Courts would be enforced.

REPORT: DESERTIFICATION A THREAT TO INTERNATIONAL STABILITY

In a new report, the United Nations University calls desertification exacerbated by climate change an imminent threat to international stability.

According to the study, within the next 10 years, 50 million people could be at risk of displacement due to severe desertification. The report calls on governments to overhaul their agriculture and other land use policies.

U.N. REPRESENTATIVE ON CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICT TO CONCLUDE VISIT TO MYANMAR

The Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, will conclude her five-day visit to Myanmar on Friday.

During her visit to Myanmar, the Special Representative met with the acting Prime Minister as well as other ministers and senior officials. She said that the Government responded favorably to engaging in an ongoing dialogue with the UN.

UNESCO DELETES SITE FROM WORLD HERITAGE LIST

For the first time ever, the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has decided to

remove a site from its World Heritage List.

The Arabian Oryx Sanctuary which is home to rare antelope has been deleted from the list because of Omans decision to reduce the size of the protected area by 90% and proceed to hydrocarbon prospecting. The World Heritage Committee sees this as destroying the outstanding universal value of the site which was inscribed in 1994.

The World Heritage Committee which is meeting this week in New Zealandalso

added more than a dozen sites to its list today, such as the Sydney Opera House and the Old Town of Corfu.

CHINA SET TO BECOME THIRD MOST POPULAR TOURIST DESTINATION

According to the UN World Tourism Organization (WTO), China is expected to become the worlds third most popular tourist destination by 2008. China attracted 49.6 million tourists last year.

The WTO says that France, Spain and the United States are currently the worlds top three tourist destinations but that China was neck-and-neck with the US last year.

SERGIO VIEIRA DE MELLO HONORED AT CEREMONY IN GENEVA

A ceremony is taking place tonight in Geneva to honor former top UN envoy in Iraq and High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello. He was killed, along with 21 colleagues, in a bombing of the UNs Baghdad Headquarters in August 2003.

During tonights ceremony outside the Palais Wilson, a bust of Vieira de Mello will be unveiled. The bronze likeness rests on a plinth which carries the names of the others who lost their lives that day.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERAL READY TO WORK WITH ALL MEMBERS OF NEW UK GOVERNMENT: Asked about the Secretary-Generals reaction to the appointment of former Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown to a position in the UK Cabinet, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General would work with Malloch Brown and with all members of the new government. She noted that the Secretary-General would visit London in the next two weeks.

U.N. FOLLOWING RIO KILLINGS: Asked about the killings that took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Spokeswoman said that it was a national issue, but one that was being followed by the United Nations.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO RESPOND ONCE GENERAL ASSEMBLY VOTES ON PEACEKEEPING REFORM: Asked about the Secretary-Generals reaction to the recent vote in the General Assemblys Fifth Committee on UN peacekeeping reform, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General would respond once the General Assembly votes on the matter, which it is expected to do on Friday.

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INFORMATION RADIO AWARDS TO BE PRESENTED TONIGHT: The UNs Department of Public Information (DPI) will hand out awards to three radio outlets in the Netherlands and the United States tonight. Raymond Sommereyns, Director of DPIs Outreach Division, will present the Gold Award to Radio Netherlands for Durgas Court: Social Justice at work in India; the Silver Award to WUNC, Chapel Hill, NC, U.S.A., for Ahmeds Diary; and the Bronze Award to Youth Radio, Berkeley, CA, U.S.A., for Race In Your Face. The awards are jointly sponsored by DPI and New York Festivals, which oversees six international awards competitions in a variety of media. The ceremony is taking place at Tribeca Rooftop in New York City.

  • *The guest at noon was Anwarul Chowdhury, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, who launched the Climate Change Report 2007.

    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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