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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-04-01
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
BAN KI-MOON URGES TRANSPARENCY IN ZIMBABWE ELECTIONS
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been closely following the situation in Zimbabwe, where results are still emerging from last weekends elections.
As the counting and tabulation of votes continues, he calls for continued calm and he urges the utmost transparency be exercised so that the people of Zimbabwe can have full confidence in the process.
Asked whether the United Nations would provide support in case a run-off election round was held, the Spokesperson said that would depend on whether the authorities in Zimbabwe requested any assistance. He noted that there had been no request for UN electoral assistance in the round that had been held.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED BY REPORTED REBEL MOVEMENTS
ACROSS CHAD-SUDAN BORDER
The Secretary-General is deeply concerned by reports of continued movement of rebel groups across the Chadian/Sudanese border and by the possibility that these groups may launch cross-border attacks.
The Secretary-General calls on the Governments of Chad and Sudan to uphold their commitments under the 13 March Dakar Accord and to make every effort to ensure that rebel groups do not use their territory as a staging ground for incursions.
The Secretary-General calls on the Contact Group, established under the Dakar Accord, to work with the parties in facilitating the implementation of the Accord and he reminds the parties that the United Nations stands ready to do everything within its capacity to assist them in stabilizing the border region.
BAN KI-MOON HEADS TO ROMANIA FOR AFGHANISTAN MEETING
The Secretary-General is scheduled to arrive in Bucharest, Romania, tomorrow, where on Thursday he will attend an international meeting on Afghanistan.
This meeting will be attended by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and key international stakeholders, including high-level representatives of the NATO membership, of non-NATO contributing nations of the International Security Assistance Force, and representatives of key international organizations, such as the European Union and the World Bank.
Tomorrow, the Secretary-General will conduct bilateral meetings with some of the leaders attending the NATO Summit that is also taking place in Bucharest. While he is in the country, the Secretary-General will also meet with the President and Prime Minister of Romania.
Asked whether the Secretary-General would call for more troops in Afghanistan, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General would hold talks in Bucharest with a variety of NATO and non-NATO leaders, as well as with President Karzai, about expanding assistance to the Afghan people.
The United Nations is also trying to increase its assistance to Afghanistan, Haq added, through the work of its new Special Representative, Kai Eide and in accordance with the mandate provided last month by the Security Council.
IRAQ: U.N. ENVOY WELCOMES CALM IN BASRA
Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, today welcomed the call made by Sayed Muqtada al Sadr for a stand-down of the armed presences in Basra and other flashpoints in the country, enhancing the climate for a ceasefire, and he acknowledged that the governments quick response was a positive measure.
De Mistura hopes that the return of calm will allow the Iraqi Government, the United Nations and other bodies to accelerate the delivery of emergency aid into the affected areas.
Yesterday, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, David Shearer, arrived in Basra to work with the Iraqi authorities and an emergency cell that was set up by the Government of Iraq to deal with the humanitarian situation, to make a rapid assessment and develop an appropriate response.
De Mistura also expressed concern over human rights violations committed during the armed clashes and emphasized to all those involved their obligations to minimize harm to civilians.
Asked whether the United Nations would criticize any side for the recent violence, the Spokesman said that the UNs focus was on making sure that the recent signs of calming in and around Basra could allow it to help coordinate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to that area.
ANY VIOLENCE IN KOSOVO IS UNACCEPTABLE, BAN KI-MOON SAYS
The Secretary-Generals latest report on the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is now available. In it, he reiterates that, since Kosovos declaration of independence, UNMIK continues to operate on the understanding that resolution 1244 remains in force, unless the Security Council decides otherwise.
The Secretary-General adds that Kosovos declaration of independence and subsequent events have posed significant challenges to UNMIKs ability to exercise its administrative authority in Kosovo. He says the evolving reality is likely to have significant operational implications for UNMIK. Pending Security Council guidance, there might be a need for UNMIK to adjust its operational deployment to deal with developments and changes on the ground in a manner consistent with resolution 1244.
Also in the report, the Secretary-General stresses that any violence, whether directed at UNMIK personnel or facilities or against members of any of Kosovos communities, is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. In that context, he urges all sides to reaffirm and act upon their commitments to refrain from any actions or statements that could endanger peace, lead to violence or jeopardize security in Kosovo and the region.
He concludes by saying that the UNs efforts in Kosovo are aimed at ensuring that the political and security situation in Kosovo and the wider region remains stable, and that the safety and security of the population are preserved.
MANY COUNTRIES STILL NOT ON TRACK TO MEET DEVELOPMENT GOALS
In his remarks to the General Assemblys Thematic Debate on the Millennium Development Goals this morning, the Secretary-General stressed that although a real difference has been made to achieve the Goals, the world is still falling short of its capabilities, and many countries remain off track.
Reiterating that 2008 should mark a turning point in progress towards the Goals, the Secretary-General said that the United Nations is working to increase internal coordination and streamline procedures to help countries achieve the goals.
Adding that various forums, including Septembers high-level meeting on Africas development, are set to convene this year, the Secretary-General expressed hope that this kind of gathering will send a strong message to governments to rise to the challenge of providing financing for development.
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL CONCLUDES SESSION IN GENEVA
The Human Rights Council
concluded its seventh session today in Geneva by hearing closing statements and adopting its report to the General Assembly.
During this session, the Human Rights Council adopted 36 resolutions. It decided to create a new mandate, that of the independent expert on access to drinking water and sanitation. It also asked the High Commissioner for Human Rights to undertake two new studies -- one compiling relevant existing legislations and jurisprudence concerning defamation of and contempt for religions, and the other on the relationship between climate change and human rights.
The Human Rights Council also asked its Advisory Committee to recommend new measures to promote the realization of the right to food.
NEARLY 3 MILLION IRAQIS CURRENTLY INTERNALLY DISPLACED
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says that, according to a report by the working group on internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq, it is estimated that more than 2.77 million people are currently displaced inside that country.
Of these, 1.2 million were displaced before 2006 and more than 1.5 million were displaced in 2006 and 2007. Most of the post-2006 displaced persons come from Baghdad and Diyala.
The report notes that new displacement is continuing at a much lower pace than in the previous two years, although new secondary displacement has been reported in Baghdad.
AGENCY CHIEF HIGHLIGHTS SOARING FOOD COSTS IN AFRICA
World Food Programme Executive Director Josette Sheeran is in Ethiopia today. She is on a three-day visit to that country and to Kenya to highlight the impact of soaring food and fuel costs.
Today, she addressed the joint African Union/Economic Commission for Africa conference on the impact of spiraling food and fuel prices in Africa. She was also scheduled to visit a wheat distribution centre and meet with grain traders and local residents.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian says that food security in Ethiopia continues to be a concern, despite rainfall in some areas. Ethiopians are resorting to borrowing food and slaughtering calves, OCHA says.
Tomorrow, Sheeran heads to Kenya for a two-day visit to WFPs current operations there, including those in response to post-election violence.
U.N. AGENCIES HELP CYCLONE SURVIVORS IN MADAGASCAR
Regarding relief efforts in
Madagascar, following Cyclone Ivan, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that relief items are being distributed in the affected areas, mainly in the east of the country.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has started an air operation, while UNICEF has distributed blankets to more than 1,400 families. It has also hired a helicopter to conduct intensive vaccination activities and delivered 6,000 mosquito nets to village leaders and mayors.
In addition, some 150,000 affected people received water and sanitation kits, including buckets, water purifiers, and metal cups. UNICEF also set up 25 tents to speed up the return of children to school.
WORLD COURT HANDLES LATIN AMERICAN DISPUTES
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) yesterday fixed deadlines for the filing of initial pleadings in the maritime
dispute between Peru and Chile. The Court has asked Peru to submit its filing by 20 March 2009 while Chile was given until 9 March 2010 to file its counter-claim.
The Court said this decision came after consulting with the parties and reassessing the circumstances of the case.
This case begun in January when Peru filed a complaint against Chile over the delimitation of the boundary between the maritime zones of the two States in the Pacific Ocean and sought to have its jurisdiction recognized over a maritime zone lying within 200 nautical miles of Perus coast, a perception that is disputed by Chile.
Also yesterday the ICJ confirmed that Ecuador has seized the Court of its
dispute with Colombia over Colombias alleged aerial spraying of toxic herbicides at locations near, at and across its border with Ecuador.
Ecuador is seeking redress because the spraying, it claims, has caused serious damage to people, crops, animals, and the natural environment on the Ecuadorian side of the frontier, and poses a grave risk of further damage over time.
EMPLOYEES OF PRIVATE COMPANY ABDUCTED IN SOMALIA
Asked whether UN staff had been abducted in Somalia today, the Spokesperson said that two men had been abducted this morning who were employees of a private company, the Genysis International Corporation. Genysis, he said, has been contracted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to carry out an aerial survey and prepare maps that will assist in bringing help to populations affected by the regular flooding of the Juba and Shabelle rivers.
Haq added that FAO confirmed that the incident took place on the road between Saakow and Buaale in Middle Juba and that one British and one Kenyan national were involved. FAO says it is up to Genesys to confirm the names of the two individuals.
SOUTH AFRICA ASSUMES SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENCY: With the start of a new month, there is a new Security Council President. South Africa replaces Russia as Council President for April. Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo of South Africa is holding bilateral discussions with other Council members today on the programme of work for this month, and the Council expects to hold consultations on that topic tomorrow.
NO COMMENT ON CHAD PARDONS: The Spokesman declined to comment on pardons provided by Chad in the case of the Arche de Zoe workers, noting that UN agencies had commented on the affair in the past and had worked to reunite the children affected in that episode with their families.
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