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United Nations Daily Highlights, 04-10-06

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPOKESMAN'S NOON BRIEFING

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE

SECRETARY-GENERAL

OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, October 6, 2004

U.N. FOOD AID REACHES MORE THAN 1.3 MILLION PEOPLE IN DARFUR

The World Food Programme (WFP) says it has fed more than 1.3 million people in the Darfur region of western

Sudan in September, exceeding its own target of 1.2 million and recording its largest food distribution since the humanitarian crisis began.

WFP says the end of the rainy season in September, coupled with an increase in the agencys truck fleet, opened up the possibility of moving a much greater volume of food aid by road.

The

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) notes that the new figures represent a substantial increase compared to August, when about 950,000 people received food assistance.

At the same time, OCHA notes that, the total number of people affected by the conflict has risen to more than 1.8 million, including 1.45 million internally displaced persons, still leaving a substantial gap between needs and the assistance that is being provided.

U.N. MISSION WORKING WITH HAITIAN POLICE TO MAINTAIN SECURITY

IN HAITIAN CAPITAL

According to the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Haiti,

Juan Gabriel Valdés, the

UN Mission Stabilization Mission in Haiti is working with the Haitian National Police to try and maintain security in some of the most difficult areas of Port au Prince.

In an interview with

UN Radio, Valdés said the peacekeepers were facing armed groups and street gangs who attacked police and civilians and destroyed property.

He said he met last night with interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue and other authorities to ensure better coordination in responding to the attacks, and to help the government provide security especially for the poorest people who live in dangerous areas.

Valdes noted that the UN Mission was operating with only 40% of the troops that had been pledged to it.

He added however, that the expected deployment of forces from China, Pakistan, Morocco, Spain and Ecuador in the coming weeks would strengthen the UNs capacities.

Other essential steps pointed out by Valdes were the disarmament of dangerous gangs, a dialogue with the former military and a strong platform for political reconciliation. Haitian society is strongly divided he said, and confrontations remain between armed groups and the interim government.

He said the UN mission would do its best to help establish a constructive dialogue and reconciliation, among all non-violent groups and political movements.

U.N. AGENCIES WARN VIOLENCE IS PUSHING PALESTINIANS INTO DEEP CRISIS

Twelve UN agencies operating in

Gaza have issued a

joint statement stating that the on-going violence, which comes on top of an already deteriorating humanitarian situation, is pushing the Palestinians into a deep crisis.

These agencies call on Israel to guarantee unrestricted and secure access to Gaza for humanitarian supplies and relief workers.

They note that movement restrictions imposed by the Israeli military have prevented effective delivery of humanitarian aid.

The

UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has not been able to deliver emergency food aid to the north of Gaza. Access into Gaza has been denied to UN international personnel for the last 14 days making a total of 65 days so far this year that the United Nations has not been able to enter.

UNRWA SAYS 25 STAFF MEMBERS ARE IN ISRAELI DETENTION

Over the last 24 hours, there have been news reports regarding UNRWA staff that may have been detained by Israeli authorities for their involvement in terror activities.

In an attempt to clarify the matter, UNRWA said it that it is aware of only one staff member being currently detained in Gaza. This individual has been held for over two years, and he is still awaiting trial.

In the West Bank, there are 24 UNRWA staff members in Israeli detention, but most are held under administrative detention without a charge or trial.

Whenever an Agency staff member is detained, by any authority, UNRWA immediately writes requesting information about the detained staff member.

In the case of those detained by Israel, UNRWA has rarely received any feedback or information.

Asked whether UNRWA received information on the charges against the staff, the Spokesman said that UNRWA has consistently approached the Israeli authorities to ask what charges are being levelled, and the authorities in return have declined to respond to those requests.

He said the UN staff was held under administrative detention.

Asked whether this differs from the UN approach to similar detentions around the world, the Spokesman said the UN procedure is the same worldwide: to go to the authorities immediately to determine the grounds for arrest. What makes the UNRWA case unusual, he said, is the large number of local staff the United Nations has.

Asked whether the

Secretary-General agreed with Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman that it was wrong for UNRWA Commissioner-General

Peter Hansen to say Hamas members were on UNRWA staff, the Spokesman declined to comment on the Secretary-Generals private conversations.

Eckhard said that the thrust of Hansens comments was that Hamas sympathizers are very likely represented among the thousands of UNRWA employees. But he added that UN guidelines were clear that staff cannot let political affiliations interfere with their work, and any engagement in militant activity by UNRWA staff would be dealt with very severely. He noted that those rules had governed the Agency during its 54 years on the ground.

U.N. TEAM ARRIVES IN JERUSALEM TO LOOK INTO ISRAELI ALLEGATIONS

INVOLVING U.N. AMBULANCE

The team dispatched to Israel by the

Secretary-General to look into the allegations by Israel that a UN ambulance driver was filmed loading a Kassam rocket into his vehicle arrived in Jerusalem today.

The team will meet with officials over the next few days and will be asking the Israeli Government and

UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to cooperate with them.

They will report back to the Secretary-General after their return to New York.

Asked when the team would return, the Spokesman said the team had gone with a dual mission: the investigation into the allegations was added to an agenda that had previously included an evaluation of UN operations in the area.

The entire assignment may take a couple of weeks, he said, although he expected that the team would try to deal with the allegations as quickly as possible.

U.S. VETOS SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION ON VIOLENCE IN MIDDLE EAST

The

Security Council yesterday afternoon failed to adopt a resolution on the

Middle East, concerning the recent violence in Gaza.

The United States cast a veto against the resolution, which also received 11 votes in favor and three abstentions. The abstentions came from Germany, Romania and the United Kingdom.

SECURITY SITUATION DOES NOT PERMIT INCREASE OF U.N. STAFF IN IRAQ

Asked about a letter sent by the UN Staff Union to the

Secretary-General, asking that no UN staff be present in

Iraq, the Spokesman said the UN determination on security is made by the UN Security Coordinator. He added that the United Nations takes note of the Staff Unions concerns.

The Spokesman said that the Security Coordinators current advice is to limit the maximum number of UN staff in Iraq to 35. Security in Iraq, he added, is being monitored on a daily basis.

Eckhard said that the United Nations would like more staff to do the tasks it needs to do, but the security situation at present would not permit a raising of the ceiling.

He noted that the United Nations was not to monitor Iraqs elections, but was helping the Iraqi people to organize them.

Asked about alternatives to raising the ceiling of staff in Iraq, the Spokesman said the United Nations has always planned on doing cross-border work, and had also rotated staff in and out of Iraq.

The United Nations has carefully reviewed its role in support of elections and the estimated minimum number of people it deems would be necessary, he said, although he declined to offer any details on specific numbers.

Asked about a Wall Street Journal story concerning former

oil-for-food program head Benon Sevan, the Spokesman said he was not going to comment on specific allegations, with the investigation into the program in the hands of

Paul Volcker. The United Nations and Sevan are cooperating with Volcker fully, he said. He added that Sevan maintains that he has done nothing wrong.

U.N. SYSTEM WORKING ON TOOLS TO STRENGTHEN SUPPORT OF RULE OF LAW

The UN system is working on important new tools to help strengthen its support for the rule of law and transitional justice, Secretary-General Kofi Annan

told the

Security Council in its open meeting on that subject today.

Among them, he said, are support for the development of model transitional criminal codes and guidance for prosecutions.

The Secretary-General discussed his recent report to the Council on the rule of law.

He told the Council that the United Nations has learnt the lesson that, to be successful, peace-building activities must reflect international norms and standards.

At the same time, he added, we cannot forget the political context, since justice, peace and democracy are mutually reinforcing. We have his statement upstairs.

The meeting is chaired by British Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell. Forty-five speakers, including all 15 Council members, were inscribed.

At the end of todays meeting, the Council is expected to adopt a Presidential Statement on the rule of law.

U.N. ENVOY: AFGHANISTAN MOVING AWAY FROM RULE OF THE GUN

The situation in

Afghanistan shows an unmistakable trend away from the rule of the gun, the head of the

UN Mission in that country said today.

In a press conference just days before the Afghanistan presidential elections,

Jean Arnault said that the United Nations believes that conditions exist for a good election.

He added that it is incumbent on us all to make polling day as free, fair and safe as possible.

Arnault added that the UN Mission is confident that those who want to prevent this elections from having will not succeed; and those whose only authority stems from the possession of a gun will not be allowed to distort it.

U.N. ENVOY WELCOMES SERBIAN ENCOURAGEMENT

FOR PARTICIPATION IN KOSOVO ELECTIONS

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Kosovo, Soren Jessen-Petersen, has welcomed the fact that Serbias President, Boris Tadic, has encouraged Kosovo Serbs to take part in the upcoming elections for the Kosovo Assembly. The elections are scheduled for 23 October.

Jessen-Petersen stressed the need for the Serbian Government to help ensure that displaced Serbs are able to cast their votes.

He also appealed to the Kosovo Serb community together with all of Kosovos communities to take part in the elections.

ILLICIT TRADE IN WILDLIFE CONTINUES AT HIGH LEVELS

Law enforcement experts attending a meeting in Bangkok of the

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) are

reporting that illicit trade in wildlife continues at high levels.

Their report says that the trade increasingly involves organized criminal networks, sophisticated poaching and smuggling techniques, fraudulent trade permits, corruption and violence towards enforcement officers.

According to CITES Secretary-General,

Willem Wijnstekers: We are in danger of losing the war against wildlife crime, especially for some very rare animals and plants, unless modern professional law enforcement techniques are directed against criminals.

These criminals, he adds, care for nothing but profit, exploit some of the worlds poorest communities and take advantage of periods of civil unrest and instability.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

DESERT LOCUST SITUATION REMAINS EXTREMELY SERIOUS IN WEST AFRICA: The

Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reports that the

desert locust situation remains extremely serious in West Africa. An increasing number of new swarms formed in Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso are capable of devouring entire harvests. FAO is urgently seeking some $100 million for programs to eliminate locusts.

DEPARTURE OF ERITREAN REFUGEES BENEFITS HOST COMMUNITIES IN EASTERN SUDAN: Eastern Sudan used to host up to one million Eritrean refugees, which affected the area's environment and economy,

according to the

UN High Commissioner for Refugees. But now that the majority have gone home, their host communities are benefiting from efforts to reforest land, rehabilitate hospitals and train people to make better use of the area's natural resources.

UNKNOWN IF ANNAN HAS SEEN REPORTS OF IAEA CRITICISM OF SECURITY COUNCIL: Asked about the

Secretary-Generals response to reported criticisms by

Mohamed ElBaradei, the Director-General of the

International Atomic Energy Agency, of the

Security Councils handling of the North Korea issue, the Spokesman said he was not aware that the Secretary-General had seen an account of that.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162 -

press/media only

Fax. 212-963-7055

All other inquiries to be addressed to (212)

963-4475 or by e-mail to: inquiries@un.org


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