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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-06-17
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
BAN KI-MOON HONORS FALLEN JOURNALISTS
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is back in New York, having wrapped up his week-long trip to London, Paris and Jeddah.
Last night in London, he spoke at the unveiling of a BBC memorial called Breathing, a glass sculpture that sends a shaft of light out into the night sky in tribute to journalists who have been slain in the line of duty.
The Secretary-General said that the beam of light stands as a solemn reminder of those who have lost their lives giving voice to the voiceless. He said, Those who murder journalists dont only stop the free flow of information; they kill the ability of millions of people to have their stories told.
Earlier, the Secretary-General spoke at the sixtieth anniversary of the International Maritime Organization, and commended the agency for focusing on the impact that shipping has on the Earth. He said that focus is critical to our quality of life today and to future generations who will inherit the world of tomorrow.
The Spokeswoman, in response to a question, said that the Secretary-General regularly writes opinion pieces on issues of importance to the United Nations that are reprinted in publications around the world. She added that his latest piece, "The Real UN", came in response to perceptions in some quarters that the Organization was nothing more than a forum for unproductive debates.
Asked if a new mechanism agreed between the Secretary-General and Saudi Arabia on dialogue among civilizations would conflict with the work of the Alliance of Civilizations, Montas explained that the two entities will work in a complementary way.
ENVOYS DISCUSS HOW TO SUPPORT SOMALIA AGREEMENT
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, is meeting today in Nairobi with representatives of the African Union, European Union, the United States, Norway and the League of Arab States.
They are discussing how to generate funds and other resources to implement the Djibouti Agreement between Somalias Transitional Federal Government and the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia.
Participants in the meetings will also study the creation of the Joint Security Committee and the High Level Committee proposed by the Djibouti Agreement, including its regional and local components. Plans for an International Conference on Reconstruction and Development in Somalia will also be considered.
The UN Political Office for Somalia says that both the Somali prime minister and the leaders of the opposition attended the consultations.
POLITICAL CHIEF EXPLORES HOW TO ADVANCE CYPRUS PROCESS
During a visit to Cyprus today, B. Lynn Pascoe, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, held separate meetings with the Greek Cypriot leader, Mr. Dimitris Christofias, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat, as well as with Nicosia-based diplomats and civil society leaders.
Pascoe told reporters he was there to assess the situation and to see how the United Nations, which has been assisting thus far in preparatory talks, can help move the process forward.
Pascoe concludes his visit tomorrow and will be back in New York later this week.
U.N. ENVOY MEETS WITH ZIMBABWEAN PRESIDENT
The Spokeswoman, in response to a question, said that Haile Menkerios, the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs on mission in Zimbabwe, met earlier today with President Robert Mugabe.
They discussed the political climate ahead of the June 27 run-off.
Menkerios also met with the foreign minister and is expected to meet with leaders of political parties and other stakeholders.
IBRAHIM GAMBARI TO HANDLE NIGERIAN ASSIGNMENT
IN PERSONAL CAPACITY
Asked to confirm that Ibrahim Gambari, a senior adviser of the Secretary-General, was tapped by his country, Nigeria, to lead a peace effort in the Niger Delta, the Spokesperson said that Gambari will soon be traveling to Nigeria in his personal capacity to discuss the terms of reference of his assignment with the Nigerian president and vice-president.
Asked if Gambari will remain the point person for the Secretary-General's efforts in Myanmar, Montas said that Gambari is expected to be traveling to Myanmar next month to pursue his work on that front.
PRESENCE OF GOLAN HEIGHTS PEACEKEEPING FORCE STILL NEEDED
The Secretary-Generals latest report on the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which monitors the Golan Heights, is available today.
In it, he says the situation in the Israel-Syria sector has remained generally quiet. Nevertheless, the situation in the Middle East is tense and is likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached. In that context, the Secretary-General considers UNDOFs continued presence to be essential and recommends that the Security Council extend its mandate until 31 December 2008.
The Secretary-General also draws attention to the shortfall in UNDOFs funding. Unpaid assessments amount to nearly $15 million, he says.
NUMBER OF REFUGEES CLIMBS FOR SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR
There were 11.4 million refugees outside their countries and 26 million others displaced internally by conflict or persecution at the end of 2007, contributing to an unprecedented number of uprooted people under the care of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
After a five-year decline in the number of refugees between 2001 and 2005, this is the second year of increases, according to UNHCR.
High Commissioner António Guterres says that we are now faced with a complex mix of global challenges that could threaten even more forced displacement in the future.
They range from multiple new conflict-related emergencies in world hotspots to bad governance, climate-induced environmental degradation that increases competition for scarce resources, and extreme price hikes that have hit the poor the hardest and are generating instability in many places.
UNICEF BOOSTS EMERGENCY OPERATION TO HELP IRAQI CHILDREN
The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) is scaling up its
Iraq emergency operation in order to reach more vulnerable children inside the country.
UNICEF says violence, isolation and lack of opportunity have put Iraqi children at greater risk of exploitation and abuse.
The agency says that more than 800,000 Iraqi children are unable to go to school and only 40 per cent can access safe water.
Through its Immediate Action for Vulnerable Children and Family or IMPACT programme, UNICEF now aims to provide assistance to over 360,000 Iraqi children this year.
The programme will ensure that the children have access to health care, including immunizations and emergency medical assistance, and are protected against malnutrition. They will also receive safe drinking water and educational assistance. Abused or otherwise vulnerable women and children will get specialized care on demand.
It is estimated that over 1.7 million Iraqis have been internally displaced since the beginning of 2006, with half of them being children.
MYANMARS HEALTH SYSTEM BACK ON ITS FEET
BUT WATER ISSUES REMAIN A CONCERN
The World Health Organization
says that Myanmars health system is back on its feet, following an all-out response by the UN, the international community and Myanmars Government in the wake of Cyclone Nargis.
Within the first 10 days, WHO notes, medical supplies had been provided to all major hospitals. Since then, teams have fanned out beyond the major centres. They are now, for example, examining tuberculosis patients on remote islands.
The quality and availability of water remains a major health concern, WHO says. It is disinfecting some six million liters of water daily, enough for approximately two million people.
Meanwhile, rice from the World Food Programmes award-winning internet word game FreeRice will soon be reaching hundreds of thousands of cyclone survivors. Two consignments have already been paid for by YUM! and Unilever, the latest companies to fund the FreeRice initiative.
DRYLANDS ARE NOT WASTE LAND
Todays World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought highlights the problems faced by millions of people who live in dryland regions. This year, the focus is on combating land degradation for sustainable agriculture.
In his message to mark the Day, the Secretary-General says it is time to recognize that drylands and marginal lands are not waste land. He calls on the international community to ensure that the UN Convention to Combat Desertification is implemented.
The Convention could offer a long-term solution to producing more food for more people, says the Secretary-General.
In addition, both the Secretary-General and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have drawn attention to the crucial role women play in combating desertification.
CHILDRENS ENVIRONMENT CONFERENCE CONSIDERS CREATING CHANGE
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) today
opened one of the worlds largest international childrens conferences in Stavanger, Norway. Its theme is creating change. The conference brings together 700 participants between the age of 10 and 14 who are engaged in environmental issues.
As part of the programme, UNEP in partnership with UNICEF is posting video clips on its website about initiatives undertaken by dozens of children around the world. These include a 13-year-old in Australia who is making a documentary on climate change and a 13-year-old in Cameroon who is running clean-up campaigns and tree plantings.
Meanwhile, UNICEF is organizing the upcoming Junior 8 conference in Japan. It is timed to coincide with the G-8 Summit to give children a chance to voice their opinions on global issues.
U.N. HOLDS PROCUREMENT SEMINAR TO DIVERSIFY SUPPLIERS BASE
On 16-17 June 2008, the United Nations Procurement Division (UNPD) and European Union Procurement Forum (EUPF) are conducting the EU Procurement Seminar on How to do Business with the United Nations.
The Seminar has attracted significant attention on the part of the EU business community. More than 200 companies are in attendance. The UN views this event as another opportunity to diversify its suppliers base in order to achieve the best value for money for the Organization.
Asked if companies from the developing world were deliberately excluded from obtaining UN contracts, Montas replied that today's seminar does in no way remove the strong emphasis the Organization places on opening procurement opportunities at the UN market for developing countries and countries with economies in transition.
"In 2007 2008, UN Procurement held 24 procurement seminars in these countries. In 2007, their share of the UN procurement volume exceeded 50 per cent. UN Procurement continues to make every effort to increase market awareness in this group of nations," she said.
U.N. OFFICES IN PAKISTAN REMAIN OPEN: In response to a question, the Spokesperson explained that contrary to some electronic media reports, the UN has not closed its offices and projects in Pakistan. Due to a number of security incidents in recent weeks, the UN has taken additional measures to strengthen the security of its staff and premises. These include relocating some staff and offices to safer locations. "The UN in Pakistan stands committed to continuing its support and assistance to serve the people of Pakistan in support of the countrys development agenda," she said.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SUPPORTS HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEFS STATEMENT ON MIDDLE EAST: Asked if the Secretary-General had asked Israel to lift restrictions on visits by Palestinians to Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, the Spokeswoman said that a cross-section of UN officials and agencies had raised the issue on several occasions, particularly High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, who deplored the practice yesterday in a speech to the Human Rights Council. The Secretary-General, she added, is certainly in agreement with the
statement made by High Commissioner Arbour on the subject.
U.N. FIGHTS RURAL POVERTY IN AZERBAIJAN: The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) today signed an agreement to support a new project to enhance food security and reduce rural poverty in the northwest of Azerbaijan. IFAD will provide a loan of $17.2 million for the project, which will rehabilitate the deteriorating irrigation infrastructure and assist farmers in diversifying their incomes.
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