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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-04-11

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 MARIE OKABE

DEPUTY

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, April 11, 2008

BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES UPCOMING SUMMIT ON ZIMBABWE

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulates the leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for their timely initiative to convene a summit of Heads of State in Lusaka, Zambia, on 13 April to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe.

He is pleased that regional leaders are mobilizing and coordinating to help Zimbabwe overcome its post-electoral crisis through peaceful means.

The Secretary-General is concerned that the situation in Zimbabwe could deteriorate if there is no prompt action to resolve this impasse.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WRAPS UP OFFICIAL VISIT TO RUSSIA

The Secretary-General has wrapped up his three-day visit to Russia and is on his way back to New York. Earlier today, he visited UN staff working in Moscow, as well as a museum in the capital.

On Thursday evening, the Secretary-General had a tête-à-tête meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in which they discussed Kosovo.

They followed that with a larger meeting, in which their delegations discussed Kosovo; the Middle East, including the meeting to be held in Moscow this summer on that subject; Darfur, and the need for helicopters for the African Union-United Nations hybrid operation there; Afghanistan and Cyprus. On the last matter, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe briefed the meetings participants on his recent visit to Cyprus and the region.

The Secretary-General and Foreign Minister Lavrov spoke to the press after their meeting. The Secretary-General said he was strongly encouraged in his meetings in Russia, including with the President and the President-elect, by Russias commitment to the central role of the United Nations and to multilateralism.

ETHIOPIA-ERITREA: TERMINATING U.N. MISSION

COULD RESULT IN RESUMED HOSTILITIES

The Secretary-Generals latest special report on Ethiopia and Eritrea is out today as a document. In it, he says that after hearing out Security Council members, there are 4 options left to be considered as regards a UN peacekeeping presence in the region.

First, there remains a chance to resume the Mission unchanged if Eritrea resumes fuel supplies and lift all restrictions on the Mission.

Another option would be to terminate the mission, while a third option could leave a small observer presence in the border area to defuse tensions and report to the Council on the situation.

A final option would include creating liaison offices in Asmara and Addis Ababa to maintain UN readiness to help the parties implement the ruling of the Boundary Commission, among other tasks.

These options are not ideal as they bear serious risks and would not resolve the dilemma created by Eritrean restrictions on the Mission. Terminating the Mission, for example, could result in a resumption of open hostilities.

As things stand today, the Secretary-General says that the only option likely to allow the UN to monitor the situation evenly seems to be the deployment of small observer missions either side of the disputed border.

In conclusion, the Secretary-General says he will engage the parties on the four options and submit a further report to the Council before July 31 when the Missions mandate is due to expire. In the meantime, he advises the Council to consider sending a mission to the region to discuss issues related to the implementation of the Border Commissions ruling. Ultimately, the Council should make the necessary decisions as a matter of priority.

He also urges Eritrea and Ethiopia to end the stalemate and accept the assistance of the Security Council and his good offices and to respect the agreements they have signed.

FIRE SWEEPS THROUGH REFUGEE CAMP IN EASTERN CHAD

A fire swept through part of the remote Goz Amer refugee camp in eastern Chad on Friday, leaving some 3,000 Darfurian refugees homeless, according to the Office for UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

UNHCR staff reported that 10 people were slightly injured, and many refugees lost all their food rations and meagre belongings.

"The refugees have already suffered so much tragedy and now face yet another trauma," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres in Geneva. "I am deeply relieved that there was no loss of life in this devastating fire. We will do everything we can to help and to get shelter and food supplies to them as quickly as possible."

The cause of the midday blaze was believed to be an untended cooking fire which spread rapidly, fanned by high winds.

U.N. ELECTORAL STAFF TO REMAIN IN NEPAL REGIONS

UNTIL BALLOT COUNTING ENDS

Following the historic Constituent Assembly election in Nepal yesterday, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative there, Ian Martin,

congratulated the Nepalese people for having demonstrated their commitment to democracy by casting their ballots in large numbers.

Both the Secretary-General and Martin commend the people for their large participation and conducting the election in a peaceful orderly manner, stressing that it is now important for political parties and their leaders to accept the peoples decision through this election, or pursue any challenges through proper legal process according to electoral laws.

This has been Nepals most observed election, with both international and national observer groups in the coming days and weeks, making public their findings regarding the electoral process, including preparations, polling and the post-polling process.

Following the 60 percent voter turnout, Nepals independent Election Commission began transporting ballots from polling locations to the 75 district centres, where counting is currently taking place.

The UN Missions electoral staff will remain in the regions and districts until the count is complete, and the monitoring of arms and armies will continue.

Meanwhile, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said today she was deeply saddened by a number of deaths that occurred during the run up to the election and on Election Day itself.

She extended her condolences to the families concerned, and encouraged the Government to act quickly to set up an independent inquiry to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths.

Asked when the Secretary-General is planning to go to Nepal, the Spokeswoman said she had no dates to announce at present.

GAZA HUMANITARIAN SITUATION REMAINS VERY DIFFICULT

According to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the situation in Gaza continues to be very difficult.

Last month, 2,400 trucks entered the Gaza Strip. That is down from the more than 10,000 trucks that entered in March 2007. In addition, a scarcity of animal feed is causing meat prices to skyrocket.

In related news, UNRWA has been providing 112,000 liters of diesel to municipalities each month for solid waste management. But the lack of electricity often forces coastal municipalities to dump their sewage into the sea.

UNRWA also reports that it has had to expand its school feeding program. It is now feeding some 110,000 Gazan children in around 110 schools everyday.

U.N. BUILDS NEW HOUSES FOR PALESTINIAN REFUGEES IN LEBANON

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) just inaugurated 150 new units of concrete housing in Lebanon. The houses will provide shelter for more than a hundred families near the Nahr El Bared Camp, which was destroyed by fighting last year.

The new housing lowers the pressure on the nearby Beddawi Camp, where refugees from Nahr El Bared had previously fled.

Rebuilding Nahr El Bared, which is home to some 30,000 refugees, will cost more than $200 million and is the biggest single project that UNRWA has even undertaken. UNRWA will soon announce the date of a pledging conference, which will seek donor commitment to the reconstruction plan.

HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF WELCOMES SENEGALS KEY CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour has warmly

welcomed the latest change to Senegals Constitution, which now makes it possible for the countrys courts to try former Chadian President Hissene Habre.

Habre who has been living in Senegal since he was deposed in 1990 has been accused of gross human rights violations during his time in power.

According to Arbour, it is rare for one State to take measures to enable the prosecution of a former Head of State of another country, and Senegal should be commended for its leadership in this regard. This is a very positive development in the struggle to strengthen accountability, she added.

Arbour also urged the international community to continue its support to Senegal to ensure that Habre will go on trial in the near future.

HUMANITARIAN CHIEF WRAPS UP VISIT TO GULF REGION

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes has wrapped up his trip to the Gulf region with a stop in Doha, where he met yesterday with Qatari leaders.

The six-day trip was intended to strengthen partnerships between the UN and the Gulf States in addressing humanitarian crises worldwide.

Holmes urged Gulf States to work with the United Nations and other international actors to address both individual humanitarian crises and the complex global challenges of rising food prices and the effects of climate change.

DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE WORKSHOP HELD IN TIMOR-LESTE

The UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) and the local Government there today held a workshop aimed at strengthening and sustaining democratic governance in the country.

In the workshop, participants devised a strategy for strengthening accountability and sustaining democratic governance over the next five years, included ensuring a separation of power between the different branches of government; developing an independent judiciary and incorporating respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms into the formation and growth of state institutions.

The plenary discussion was led by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão followed by Interim President Fernando do Araujo, Justice Minister Lucia Lobato and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Atul Khare.

D.R. CONGO: ATTACKS ON AID WORKERS UNACCEPTABLE

Asked about the suspension of aid activity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by the group Medicins sans Frontieres, the Spokeswoman said that the humanitarian action plan for the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the second largest in the world, after Sudan, reflecting the continuing need for humanitarian assistance in the vast country.

It is unacceptable, Okabe said, that non-governmental organizations and UN agencies providing essential humanitarian goods and services are being brutally attacked and robbed of both money and equipment in the course of doing their duty.

She called upon the authorities in South Kivu to do their part to ensure a better security environment so that the humanitarian needs of the population can be met.

KENYA HUMANITARIAN APPEAL EXPANDED

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has

expanded its appeal for Kenya, in light of the need to respond to the recent drought, to cover humanitarian needs through 2008. The Emergency Humanitarian Response Plan for now asks for $189 million covering assistance for internally displaced persons, early recovery and the current drought.

With funding to date of $38 million since the original Plan was launched in January, the revised and expanded plan seeks an additional $150 million for emergency actions for up to 500,000 people affected by post-conflict disruptions, and 840,000 people at risk from drought.

OCHA has also said that $68 million is needed to implement this years Humanitarian Response Plan for nearby Ethiopia.

BAN KI-MOON TO VISIT WEST AFRICA

The Secretary-General, accompanied by his wife, will be traveling to West Africa later this month.

He plans to make official visits to Ghana, Liberia, Burkina Faso and Cote dIvoire.

His first stop will be Accra, Ghana, where he is scheduled to address the opening of the 12th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). He also plans to meet with Ghanaian President John Kufuor and the Foreign Minister during his official visit to that country.

From Accra, he will travel to the Liberian capital Monrovia where he will meet with the countrys leadership, the leadership of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the UN Country Team.

From Monrovia, the Secretary-General plans to travel to Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso where a bilateral meeting is planned with President Blaise Compaore, the Facilitator of the Inter-Ivorian Dialogue and current Chairman of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

His final stop is Abidjan, Cote dIvoire, where meetings are planned with President Laurent Gbagbo, the Prime Minister, and with opposition leaders and civil society. He will also meet with the leadership of the UN Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI).

BAN KI-MOON LOOKS FORWARD TO PAPAL VISIT

Pope Benedicts visit to the United Nations and address to the General Assembly will be the fourth such papal visit, following Pope Paul VI in 1965 and Pope John Paul II in 1979 and 1995.

His visit falls on the anniversary of the Secretary-Generals visit to the Vatican on 18 April 2007, when he invited the Pope to the United Nations.

During his three-hour visit to UN Headquarters, the Pope will address the General Assembly and UN staff in two separate events, and meet with the Secretary-General and the Presidents of the General Assembly and Security Council.

The Secretary-General looks forward to meeting with the Pope again and continuing their discussions on issues of common concern, such as poverty reduction, climate change and disarmament and dialogue among civilizations.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECURITY COUNCIL PLANS HIGH-LEVEL MEETING ON CONFLICT PREVENTION: The Security Council held consultations today to discuss arrangements for the high-level Council meeting that will take place next Wednesday, which is to be chaired by South African President Thabo Mbeki. That meeting will be an open debate with regional and sub-regional organizations, concerning conflict prevention.

KOREAN ASTRONAUT TO CARRY U.N. FLAG INTO SPACE: The UN Office for Outer Space Affairs in Vienna reports that next Thursday, it will hold an event with the Republic of Korea concerning the space journey being undertaken by Koreas first astronaut, Yi So-yeon, on board the International Space Station. The astronaut is carrying the UN flag with her.

MALI VACCINATION CAMPAIGN STARTS TOMORROW: The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that a week-long campaign will begin tomorrow to vaccinate nearly 6 million people across southern Mali against yellow fever. With a Brazilian company supplying half the necessary vaccine, this is the first time ever that a mass vaccination campaign will be undertaken thanks to south-south supply, according to WHO.

SOARING PRICE OF FOOD IMPORTS TO HIT AFRICA THE HARDEST: It will cost the worlds poorest countries 56 percent more to import cereals in 2007/2008 than it did one year earlier, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns in its latest Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, which says that 37 countries are currently facing food crises. Low-income countries in Africa will be hit the hardest, with the cost of such imports there expected to rise by 74 per cent. Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) is undertaking a detailed assessment on the impact of increasing food prices in 30 countries, including 23 in Africa.

HUMANITARIAN SITUATION DETERIORATING IN SOMALIA: According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the humanitarian situation in Somalia is

deteriorating faster than expected. Three key factors have contributed to this -- an abnormally harsh dry season with higher-than-average temperatures and unusually dry winds, increasing civil insecurity, and rising inflation rates.

WEB MANAGEMENT POLICY NOT UNIQUE: Asked whether the United Nations blocks certain web sites on its computer network, the Spokeswoman noted that the United Nations was no different from other organizations in having a management policy regarding its web site.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

Sunday, April 13

In Cape Town, the Deputy Secretary-General delivers the keynote address at the inauguration of the 118th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

In Doha, Qatar, General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim delivers the keynote speech at the 8th Doha Forum on Democracy, Development, and Free Trade.

Monday, April 14

At 9:30 a.m., the Secretary-General and the President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) open a special high-level ECOSOC meeting with the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization and the UN Conference on Trade and Development.

This morning, the Security Council receives a briefing and holds consultations on Liberia. In the afternoon, it holds a private meeting with Troop Contributing Countries to the UN Observer Mission in Georgia, followed by consultations on Georgia.

At 11 a.m. in Room S-226, Agnes Asekenye-Oonyu, Chief of the Asia Pacific Section of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and other human rights experts discuss the impact of armed conflict on children in Sri Lanka.

The guest at the noon briefing is Ellen Margrethe Løj, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Liberia.

All week in the Trusteeship Council Chamber, the Committee of Experts on Public Administration holds its seventh session.

All this week in Vienna, the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice holds its 17th session.

From today through 25 April in Geneva, the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families holds its eighth session.

From today through Wednesday in Oslo, a conference on Climate Change and Official Statistics explores the role of official statistics in the measurement of the impacts of climate change.

Tuesday, April 15

Today and tomorrow, the General Assembly meets to discuss Financing for Development: review session on Chapter IV of the Monterrey Consensus (Increasing international financial and technical cooperation for development).

This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution on the UN Observer Mission in Georgia, followed by consultations on the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

From 3 to 4 p.m. in the Economic and Social Council Chamber, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes briefs on the Central Emergency Response Fund.

From 3 to 5:30 p.m. in Conference Room 8, there will be a briefing on HIV and sex work.

Today and tomorrow in Kyoto, Japan, the International Telecommunication Union hosts a global symposium on the relationship between information and communication technologies and climate change.

Wednesday, April 16

This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold a high-level debate on regional and subregional organizations and conflict prevention. The Secretary-General is scheduled to attend.

From 1 to 2.30 p.m. in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a round table on The value of trademarks and the costs of counterfeiting to developing countries.

From 3 to 5.30 p.m. in the Economic and Social Council Chamber, there will be a panel discussion on Moving ahead with the aid effectiveness agenda in 2008: From here to Accra and Doha.

In Copenhagen, the Deputy Secretary-General attends the first meeting of Denmark's Commission on Effective Development Cooperation with Africa.

From today through Friday in Dakar, Senegal, the UN Industrial Development Organization jointly sponsors an International Conference on Renewable Energy in Africa - Making Renewable Energy Markets Work for Africa: Policies, Industries and Finance for Scaling-Up.

Thursday, April 17

At 1:15 p.m. in Conference Room 2, the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security sponsors a presentation on "A fissile material cut off treaty and its verification" by Professor Frank Von Hippel, the Co-Chair of the International Panel on Fissile Materials.

In Vienna, the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs holds an event, including a video downlink, on the space journey by Koreas first astronaut, Yi So-yeon, who is onboard the International Space Station and carrying the UN flag with her.

Friday, April 18

This morning, Pope Benedict XVI visits UN Headquarters. He is scheduled to meet with the Secretary-General and address the General Assembly.

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055

to the Spokesperson's Page


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