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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-12-08
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: email@example.comHIGHLIGHTS
OF THE NOON BRIEFING
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, December 8, 2003
AFGHAN SECURITY SITUATION DETERIORATING, SAYS ANNAN IN REPORT
Secretary-General Kofi Annans latest report to the General Assembly on Afghanistan highlights the deteriorating security situation as a major concern throughout the country, with criminality, factional fighting and the illegal narcotics trade all having a negative impact on the Bonn process.
The Secretary-General says that, to ensure that the Bonn process succeeds, it is indispensable that international support must be significantly increased and sustained. Above all, the international community needs to strengthen its commitment to provide security.
He also says that he has begun a process of consultations on a follow-up to the Bonn process, with a possible second international conference envisioned that would bring together a representative spectrum of the Afghan population, in partnership with the international community.
ANNAN CALLS ON COALITION TO INVESTIGATE GHAZNI KILLINGS
In a statement, issued on Sunday, the Secretary-General expressed his sadness at reports that nine children were killed in Ghazni, Afghanistan, apparently as the result of an air strike carried out by coalition forces against a Taliban leader.
The Secretary-General has noted that the coalition will conduct an investigation into this tragic incident and urged that the investigation be comprehensive and that its results be made public.
Given that this is not the first time innocents have been killed as a result of coalition air strikes, the Secretary-General also urges that the findings of the investigation include measures to ensure that such tragic mistakes are not repeated. The fight against terrorism cannot be won at the expense of innocent lives.
From Kabul, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi also voiced his own distress at the killings in Ghazni. Brahimi also expressed his shock at the explosion this weekend in a popular market in Kandahar, saying that recent attacks on civilians are utterly condemnable.
SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES LATEST UNMOVIC REPORT
The Security Council held consultations today on the work of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission for Iraq (UNMOVIC).
The Commissions acting Executive Chairman, Demetrius Perricos, briefed the Council on UNMOVICs latest report, which came out last week.
In that report, the Commission informed the Council that that, by the end of November, it was not provided with the results of investigations by the US-led Iraq Survey Group, other than a statement made to the public on its interim progress report. The Survey Group has not given the Commission that report.
UN RIGHTS ENVOY BRIEFLY DETAINED BY PRISONERS IN DR CONGO
Iulia Motoc, the UNs Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was blocked from leaving a high security prison she was visiting in the Katanga region of the DRC.
During her visit to the Buluo prison, she met with a number of prisoners to discuss their situation. As her delegation was about to leave, a group of 60 detainees blocked the prison exits.
After close to three hours, Motoc and her delegation were permitted to leave. The prisoners complained of the illegal nature of their detention, claiming that official charges had not been filed in many cases.
Despite this incident, Motoc will continue her visit, her fourth to the DRC, in the interest of victims of human rights violations.
SECRETARY-GENERAL PREPARES FOR UPCOMING INFORMATION SUMMIT
The Secretary-General today arrived in Geneva, where he met with a teenager who won an arts competition for the UN International Year of Freshwater. He also prepared for the upcoming World Summit on the Information Society and World Electronic Media Forum.
Fourteen-year-old Billy Driver, on behalf of the winners of the British-Swiss competition, presented the Secretary-General and Nane Annan with a book featuring the winners' artwork and poetry.
The Secretary-General also received a briefing on the Summit and the Forum by the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union, Yoshio Utsumi, and by other UN officials dealing with the Summit.
He also scheduled other internal meetings today, including with UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot and Mohamed Sahnoun, his Special Advisor on Africa.
ANNAN AND CHINESE PREMIER MEET IN NEW YORK
The Secretary-General met with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao Sunday afternoon. Their talks touched on UN reform, Iraq, the Korean Peninsula, Taiwan, Afghanistan, HIV/AIDS and Chinas assistance to Africa.
The Prime Minister made a point of saying that he had made the UN the first stop on his current tour of the United States.
The two then spoke to the press after the meeting. The Secretary-General congratulated China on the way it handled the SARS epidemic and thanked the Prime Minister for Chinas very strong support for the African continent.
On UN reform, the Secretary-General said they had talked about the need to take measures to strengthen the Organization and make it more responsive to the challenges of our time.
MIDDLE EAST: ANNAN ENCOURAGED BY GENEVA ACCORD
Late on Friday afternoon, in a statement issued through his Spokesman, the Secretary-General said he was encouraged following his meeting with Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo and other Geneva Accord Signatories.
While the Geneva Accord is not a substitute for official negotiations between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, it has already achieved the important goal of stimulating debate among Palestinians and Israelis on the factors that must be resolved to end this long conflict.
LIBERIAN FIGHTERS TURN IN THEIR WEAPONS TO UNITED NATIONS
Hundreds of Liberian combatants turned up Sunday at Camp Schieffelin, 35 miles outside Monrovia, to hand in their arms to the UN Mission in Liberia. The fighters, mainly loyal to the former Government, waited in long lines throughout the day to begin the countrys disarmament process.
The Mission says that some 1,400 former combatants turned in their arms on Sunday, and hundreds more are lined up today.
Jacques Klein, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Liberia, said that with the start of disarmament, Liberia is putting an end to fourteen years of war. He said that those who turn in their arms would be given an opportunity to begin a new life, free of fear, of violence, and of the deprivations of war.
UN SUDAN ENVOY SHOCKED BY LIVING CONDITIONS IN DARFUR
The Secretary-Generals humanitarian envoy for Sudan said he was shocked by the conditions in which internally displaced persons were living in Darfur, following a visit to that region over the weekend.
The envoy, Tom Eric Vraalsen, noted a significant worsening of humanitarian and security conditions in Darfur, which now affect one million people. Vraalsen reported that denials of access are the greatest single impediment to humanitarian efforts in Darfur.
As a consequence of growing insecurity and access constraints, the humanitarian crisis has reached unprecedented proportions, with one million war-affected people.
On a similar mission in September, Vraalsen said that humanitarian efforts could partially cover needs, but now, he warned, humanitarian operations have come to a virtual standstill. Conditions in inaccessible areas are sure to be even worse.
UN ENVOY PRESSES COTE DIVOIRE PRESIDENT ON BASIC SERVICES
Carolyn McAskie, the UNs Special Humanitarian Envoy for Cote dIvoire, is in Abidjan today, where she met with President Laurent Gbagbo.
In her meeting with the President, she raised a number of issues, including the protection and return of internally displaced persons and the need for basic services, such as education and health, to be restored, especially in the north and west of the country.
McAskie also raised the issue of land disputes, which have recently led to the expulsion of some farmers, emphasizing the need to find long-term solutions to this problem.
She also had a chance to meet with international donors. She called on them to generously support the recent inter-agency appeal for $59 millionto meet the needs of the most vulnerable in Cote dIvoire.
UN WARNS OF INCREASE FOOD SHORTAGES IN NORTH KOREA
Unless new pledges for the 2003 Appeal for North Korea are received by May, cereal shortfalls may affect 3.8 million people countrywide. The appeal is funded at just over fifty percent.
At times this year, up to three million food aid beneficiaries have been dropped from the World Food Programme distribution because of lack of resources.
According to the UNs Children Fund, the humanitarian crisis in North Korea mainly affects the country's youngest children. Around 70,000 children are severely or acutely malnourished and at high risk of dying if they do not receive critical hospital treatment.
INTERNATIONAL WORKERS ATTACKED IN KOSOVO
The UN Mission in Kosovo over the weekend said it was greatly disturbed by a stone-throwing attack in Mitrovica on Saturday, directed against a World Bank delegation which had been seeking ways to improve Kosovos economic development.
The delegation was attacked after it had gone to the same restaurant where Kosovos Prime Minister was also visiting.
UN and Kosovo police acted immediately to restore public order after the delegates were harassed, and one UN bus used to transport them was damaged.
A criminal investigation has been opened into the attack.
HUMAN RIGHTS COMPLIANCE SLIPS IN GUATEMALA
In its latest report, the UN Verification Mission in Guatemala has found that human rights compliance between July 2002 and June 2003 has deteriorated, with police violations having increased and impunity becoming the norm.
The Mission says this deterioration is closely linked to the failure to advance on other aspects of the peace agreements in that country.
The Mission's monitoring of the peace agreements in Guatemala ends on December 31 this year.
UN: PRO-GROWTH POLICIES CAN WORK IN FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY
This years UN World Economic and Social Survey says that some mixes of economic policies are better than others in attacking poverty, although it adds that policies geared to generating growth can be powerful tools in the anti-poverty fight.
The Survey says that, in terms of trade, the main threat to the poor comes from protectionism in rich countries, especially policies that target agriculture and textiles coming from the South. The report also recommends greater trade openness among developing countries themselves.
The report also notes that land redistribution and the liberalization of agricultural markets can reduce poverty in rural areas, which are home to 75 percent of those who live in absolute poverty.
FAO ENCOURAGES FOOD TRADE AMONGST AFRICAN NATIONS
Though some regions in Sub-Saharan Africa can expect bumper crops, food shortages are forecast in 23 countries throughout the continent, according to the Africa Report released today by the Food and Agricultural Organization. The agency says that this provides an opportunity to enhance food security through trade from surplus to deficit areas.
The report provides a country by country breakdown of food shortages and crop prospects for sub-Saharan Africa.
WFP HEAD VISITS MOSCOW: James Morris, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, arrived in Moscow Sunday for a three-day visit to strengthen cooperation with the Government, as well as the growing private sector. Russia became a donor to the agency for the first time this year with cash and grain donations which went to Angola and North Korea.
TRIBUTE TO VIEIRA DE MELLO HELD: In a message to the participants of a symposium on Human Security held in the memory of Sergio Vieira de Mello in New York, the Secretary-General said that Vieira de Mello knew how difficult, yet important, it is to protect humanitarian space in conflict zones and how central promoting justice and the rule of law is to post-conflict transition. Sergio, the Secretary-General said in the message, set a standard for all humanitarians, peacekeepers, peacemakers, and peace-builders.
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