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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-06-23
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, June 23, 2008
ZIMBABWE REPRESENTS SINGLE GREATEST CHALLENGE
TO REGIONAL STABILITY IN SOUTHERN AFRICA TODAY
[Following his monthly luncheon with the members of the Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made the following remarks on Zimbabwe:
As you know, the Security Council will discuss the situation in Zimbabwe this afternoon.
I would like to take this moment to say how distressed I am by the events leading to the understandable decision of the opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai to withdraw from the runoff election scheduled for this Friday.
You have all seen the statement I issued yesterday. We strongly agree with the Southern African Development Community, SADC that conditions do not exist for free and fair elections right now in Zimbabwe. There has been too much violence, too much intimidation. A vote held in these conditions would lack all legitimacy. Just today we have seen a new report of a raid on the Opposition headquarters in Harare and of dozens of arrests.
The campaign of threat and intimidation we have seen in Zimbabwe goes against the very spirit of democracy. Instead of openness, free competition and transparency, we have witnessed fear, hostility and blatant attacks against Zimbabwean citizens.
This violence and intimidation must stop. The people of Zimbabwe have a right to live in peace and security, to enjoy the protections of the rule of law, and to vote freely and fairly for those who would lead them.
Over the weekend, I have been in close contact with a number of African leaders. We all agree that the elections should be postponed until the right conditions are in place. I would strongly discourage the authorities from going ahead with the run-off on Friday. It will only deepen divisions within the country and produce a result that cannot be credible.
I am committed to working with the SADC, and the African Union to get the parties talking in order to avoid an even greater tragedy in Zimbabwe. Many leaders have suggested stronger involvement of the UN in this process. My envoy on the ground, Haile Menkerios, remains ready to assist these efforts.
Let me say in conclusion that what happens in Zimbabwe has importance well beyond that countrys borders. The situation in Zimbabwe represents the single greatest challenge to regional stability in Southern Africa today. The regions political and economic security are at stake, as is the very institution of elections in Africa.]
SECURITY COUNCIL TO TAKE UP ZIMBABWE
The members of the Security Council also expect to meet at around 3:00 this afternoon on Zimbabwe, but the format of that meeting has yet to be decided. Council members were to discuss the format in their closed consultations this morning.
BAN KI-MOON CALLS SITUATION IN ZIMBABWE DEEPLY DISTRESSING
According to a statement issued yesterday, the Secretary-General deeply regrets that, despite the repeated appeals of the international community, the Government of Zimbabwe has failed to put in place the conditions necessary for free and fair run-off elections.
The circumstances that led to the withdrawal of Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai from the Presidential elections represent a deeply distressing development that does not bode well for the future of democracy in Zimbabwe.
The campaign of violence and intimidation that has marred this election has done a great disservice to the people of the country and must end immediately.
The Secretary-General has discussed the situation with various leaders, including those of the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
He strongly supports the statement of the Chairman of SADC that conditions do not exist for a run-off election to be held at this time and that they should be postponed. The United Nations is prepared to work urgently with SADC and the African Union to help resolve this political impasse. Assistant Secretary-General Haile Menkerios remains in the region to assist.
Asked about Menkerioss recent travels, the Spokeswoman noted that he had been in South Africa.
SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES UP
GOLAN HEIGHTS FORCE AND ETHIOPIA/ERITREA
The Security Council this morning discussed the UN Disengagement Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights, following a meeting earlier today with the troop contributing countries for that peacekeeping mission. Wolfgang Wiesbrod-Weber, the Director of the Department for Peacekeeping Operations Asia and Middle East Division, briefed Council members on the Secretary-Generals latest report on the mission, which recommended that it be extended for six months.
The Council also held consultations on the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) this morning to consider a draft resolution on that missions future.
U.N. TEAM IN SOUTH AFRICA HELPS GOVERNMENT RESPOND IN WAKE OF VIOLENCE AGAINST FOREIGNERS
The UN team in South Africa is helping the government respond in the wake of violence against foreigners there.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recently established a hotline for refugees and asylum seekers. It is also helping the Government with registration efforts in Gauteng Province.
UNICEF, meanwhile, is helping with nutrition, education and child protection, and also providing basic recreational materials for schoolchildren.
The UN team has also helped lead trainings on humanitarian principles and disaster response for officials in Cape Town and elsewhere.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OF STAFF MEMBER ABDUCTED IN SOMALIA
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has called for the immediate and unconditional release of its staff member who was abducted by armed men on Saturday in Somalia.
Hassan Mohamed Ali, a human rights advocate and the longest-serving UNHCR staff member in Somalia, was taken from his home near Mogadishu Saturday evening. So far, his abductors have not made contact with the UN, the Somali authorities or any third party.
High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, who was traveling in the region last week, said the abduction is a setback to humanitarian efforts for uprooted Somalis. UNHCR is an impartial and apolitical organization, he said. We ourselves are civilians. We are unarmed. We are humanitarians who are committed to serving those in need.
This latest attack on a UNHCR worker comes just a few months after a series of kidnappings and abductions in April forced the UN to withdraw international staff from parts of the country. The Organization had just begun redeploying international staff to regions deemed to be safer.
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME DRIVERS SAFELY RESCUED FOLLOWING CARJACKING IN DARFUR
The UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) reports that two World Food Programme trucks were carjacked yesterday by 11 armed men. A patrol team sent by UNAMID managed to rescue the two drivers safely.
UNAMID also reports that a number of confidence-building patrols have been conducted in Darfur, including a night-time patrol in the village of Kineen, where the team spoke with the residents who complained of a lack of adequate schools, lack of food, water and medical facilities.
The UNAMID team was told that children and women were constantly harassed by armed Arab militias when fetching firewood. The team assured them that their concerns would be communicated to appropriate agencies, and that more patrols would be conducted to the area.
The security situations where the patrols took place were assessed to be relatively calm.
Meanwhile, the humanitarian community in Sudan is warning that the people of Darfur face the annual hunger gap the period leading up to the harvest in October.
In a joint
statement issued over the weekend, the UN humanitarian agencies in Sudan urged the government of Sudan to implement its stated commitment to ensure that food convoys with escorts are organized at least every 48 hours on main routes into Darfur.
However, in order to return the food ration to normal levels, the authorities must permit food relief trucks to travel into Darfur every day, regardless of whether escorts are in place or not.
U.N. ENVOY WILL DISCUSS "NAME ISSUE" IN ATHENS AND SKOPJE
The Secretary-Generals Personal Envoy for the talks between Greece and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Matthew Nimetz, will travel to the region this week for continued consultations on the name issue.
Nimetz will be in Athens on Thursday and Skopje on Friday.
In Athens, he is expected to meet with the Greek Foreign Minister, as well as other Greek officials.
In Skopje, he will meet the President and Prime Minister of The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, along with other officials.
Asked whether Nimetz had any new proposals, the Spokeswoman said that he did not.
BAN KI-MOON URGES STRONG SUPPORT FOR GUINEA-BISSAU
Available today is a report by the Secretary-General on Guinea-Bissau and peacebuilding efforts in that country.
In the report, the Secretary-General says the international community must urgently and strongly support the Government of Guinea-Bissau in the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime.
He also notes that the economic and financial situation in the country remains dire.
In that context, he says he is concerned that resources for the smooth conduct of crucial legislative elections, scheduled for this November, have not been found yet.
ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY TEAM IN SYRIA TO INVESTIGATE
INSTALLATION DESTROYED BY ISRAEL IN SEPTEMBER
An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team arrived in Syria yesterday.
It will work through tomorrow to determine the veracity of information that claimed that an installation destroyed by Israel in Syria last September was a nuclear reactor. According to the information, the reactor was not yet operational and no nuclear material had been introduced into it.
IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei
said that the Agency is treating this information with the seriousness it deserves and that he looks forward to Syrias full cooperation in this matter.
SECRETARY-GENERAL HAS REPEATEDLY APPEALED FOR CALM
BETWEEN ISRAEL AND IRAN
The Spokeswoman declined to comment on reported remarks made by IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei about Israeli threats made against Iran, saying that his comments speak for themselves.
She noted that the Secretary-General in general comments on actions by Member States, not threats, and had no comment to make on this matter.
Montas added that the Secretary-General has repeatedly appealed for calm on this matter and asked all sides to avoid rhetoric and threats.
UNITED NATIONS HONORS 12 INSTITUTIONS WITH PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD
The UN today honored innovative public institutions from 12 Member States with the
UN Public Service Award.
In her remarks at the awards ceremony, the Deputy Secretary-General congratulated the winners for creating new mechanisms for citizens to participate in decision-making, thereby making their Governments more transparent and accountable.
She noted that despite their diversity, the winners demonstrate one universal truth that innovation in governance is possible.
SECRETARY-GENERAL IS CONCERNED OVER DELAYS IN FORMING A GOVERNMENT IN LEBANON: Asked whether the Secretary-General is concerned by the delays in forming a government in
Lebanon, the Spokeswoman said that he was, and that he was in contact with various parties on the matter. At the same time, she stressed the sovereignty of Lebanon as it deals with its internal political matters.
U.N. STUDYING REQUEST FOR INVESTIGATION OF BHUTTO ASSASSINATION: Asked about the request from Pakistan about an investigation into former Prime Minister Benazir Bhuttos assassination, the Spokeswoman said that the request was still being studied, and intensive consultations were taking place on it.
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