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United Nations Daily Highlights, 04-10-19
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPOKESMAN'S NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
ASSOCIATE SPOKESMAN FOR THE
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
ANNAN CONCERNED ABOUT POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN MYANMAR
Secretary-General Kofi Annan is
concerned about the events that have unfolded in Yangon overnight, including the report that Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt has been dismissed and put under house arrest.
Noting the change in the top leadership of the Government, the Secretary-General calls on the Myanmar authorities to remain committed to the process of national reconciliation and democratization.
To that end, he urges the Myanmar authorities to resume as soon as possible substantive dialogue with the National League for Democracy (NLD) and other political parties, as well as furthering its dialogue with ethnic nationality ceasefire and non-ceasefire groups.
The Secretary-General is also concerned about the welfare of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her deputy, U Tin Oo, who have been kept under house arrest since May 2003.
He reiterates his call on the Myanmar authorities to release them without further delay.
ANNAN HOLDS WIDE-RANGING TALKS WITH BRITISH LEADERS
This morning, the Secretary-General met with U.K. Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw. They talked to the press afterwards, saying they had discussed
Israel and Palestine, and
UN reform, among other topics.
Asked about elections in Iraq, the Secretary-General said that, for the moment, we believe we are on track, and should be able to have the elections if the environment holds.
Asked whether the situation in Darfur, Sudan, is a lost cause, he said that we need to give the African Union the support to go in there, and press the parties to find a political solution.
The Secretary-General then met with leaders of non-governmental organizations, who asked him what they could do to further his agenda to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
The Secretary-General next went to Buckingham Palace for an audience with the Queen.
At midday, he had a working lunch with Prime Minister Tony Blair. They discussed Iraq, Sudan, African development, climate change, Iran, and the Middle East. The two of them met briefly with the press afterwards. Asked about Iraq, the Secretary-General said that any government with capacity and ability to help should do what they can to help stabilize Iraq so that the Iraqis can get on with their lives.
He also met with the Secretary of State for International Development, Hilary Benn. They discussed Sudan from both the humanitarian and political point of view, the security situation in Iraq and the impact on the delivery of assistance, the Millennium Development Goals, and the Summit at next years General Assembly to assess progress and finally, Somalia.
Following that meeting he met with about a dozen Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament. They discussed a wide range of issues, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Middle East, UN reform, Haiti, Sudan, and Kosovo.
Yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General and UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown discussed the follow-up to the Doha round of trade negotiations. Other topics included the status of funding for the
Global Fund on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the current world economy, the impact of oil prices and the role of emerging economies among developing countries.
SECURITY SITUATION REMAINS TENSE IN DARFUR;
SMALL U.N. TEAM ASSISTS AFRICAN UNION IN DARFUR FORCE PLANNING
The UN Mission in Sudan reports that the security situation remains tense in the three States of
Security incidents including a possible cease-fire violation, an attack on a village, an attack on convoy of vehicles contracted by the
World Food Programme, militia activities and rapes cases have been reported.
Meanwhile, on the humanitarian front, the
UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
reports that UNHCR mobile protection teams are currently working in western Darfur near the Sudan-Chad border to monitor internal displacement as well as mapping and assessing the condition of abandoned and destroyed villages. This work is vital in trying to help a complicated mix of internally displaced people, recent returnees from Chad, and even Chadian refugees who still reside in Darfur.
Asked about the UNs role in a planned African Union (AU) force for Darfur, the Spokeswoman said the current priority of the Secretary-General and the Security Council is to get the security situation under control by helping the African Union, which is about to take a decision in the coming days on the kind of force to use. She noted that the Secretary-General has been appealing to countries to help support this AU force logistically and with other resources to boost its capacity on the ground.
The Secretary-General has also deployed a small cell at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa to assist the African Union in its planning for the expanded force, the Spokeswoman said. Asked about the size of the cell, the Spokeswoman said she believed it was around six people from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and that number included planning and logistics as well as police experts.
Asked if the United Nations was performing an advocacy role for the planned AU force, the Spokeswoman said that the AU would have to first take the decision to deploy and only in response to that could the United Nations come up with specific ways in which it could help.
Asked who was responsible for UN policy on Darfur, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General was in charge, and that he had a Special Representative in Sudan, Jan Pronk, who heads the UN Mission there. The mission is a comprehensive one, looking at everything from security to humanitarian to the political, she said.
SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR FOREIGN TROOPS TO LEAVE LEBANON
Security Council adopted a presidential statement on the implementation of
resolution 1559. That resolution called for all foreign troops to withdraw from Lebanon. It also called for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias.
With this statement, Council members noted with concern that the requirements set out in the resolution have not been met, as reported by the
Council members request that the
Secretary-General report back every six months on the implementation of resolution 1559.
SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS MEETING ON COUNTER-TERRORISM COMMITTEE
Security Council is currently holding an open meeting on the work of its
The Chairman of that Committee, Ambassador Andrey Denisov of the Russian Federation, briefed the Council about its work over the past three months. Over that time, he said, the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate has been consolidated.
The Committee has also been able to speed up the process of reviewing reports by Member States.
The Directorates Executive Director,
Javier Ruperez, also addressed the Council.
The open meeting is continuing now, and a Presidential Statement is expected at its conclusion.
SOMALIA: REQUEST FOR EXPANDED U.N. PEACE-BUILDING ROLE EXPECTED
report to the Security Council on Somalia, the Secretary-General says that at this stage of progress in the Somali peace process, there will likely be a call for an expanded peace-building role and presence for the United Nations, in order that it may assist the Somali parties in implementing their agreement.
At the same time, it is clear that any enhanced role for the Organization in Somalia must be incremental, and should be based on the outcome of discussions with the new Government, he says.
Pending his recommendations in this regard and the decisions by the Council, the Secretary-General proposes that the resources available to the UN Political Office for Somalia for 2004-2005 be maintained at the current level.
He reiterated the crucial importance of progress in the political arena being accompanied by serious efforts on the part of Somali leaders to bring about tangible improvement in the security situation on the ground.
He also appealed for generous support by the international community to the Somali people at this critical juncture in their history.
Asked if the United Nations had received any correspondence with the Somali Government about sending peacekeeping troops to Somalia, the Spokeswoman said no such correspondence had been received.
MAJOR GAPS REMAIN FOR WOMENS PARTICIPATION IN PEACE PROCESSES
report of the
Secretary-General on women and peace and security released today, he noted that despite significant achievements, major gaps and challenges remain in all areas.
Some of the gaps the report cites are in relation to womens participation in conflict prevention and peace processes; the integration of gender perspectives in peace agreements; attention to the contributions and needs of women in humanitarian and reconstruction processes; and representation of women in decision-making positions.
It also reports also notes increased incidents of sexual and gender-based violence in recent years and the failure to provide adequate protection is a critical issue.
An open debate on this subject is
scheduled for next Thursday.
SITUATION CALM IN PORT AU PRINCE; CHINESE POLICE JOIN U.N. MISSION
UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti reports that following the recent tension and violence in
Port au Prince, the situation in the capital has been relatively calm for the past week.
Children are back in school, shops have reopened and the port facilities are functioning. UN and Haitian national police continue their joint patrols in the city.
Police activity has been strengthened by the
arrival over the weekend of a formed police unit from China. The 125-strong unit is well equipped and especially trained in crowd control.
On the humanitarian side, a
World Food Programme convoy taking supplies from the capital to the flood-damaged city of Gonaives left this morning.
The convoys, which now function every other day, are protected by UN troops, and take food aid to three distribution points in the city.
UNICEF DISTRIBUTING SCHOOL BAGS TO CHILDREN IN GAZA
UNICEF, the UN Childrens Fund, today began distributing more than 40,000 school bags to children in the Gaza Strip.
The distribution began with schools damaged by the recent military incursions into the north, and will be completed by the end of the week.
UNICEF says the school bags are a token of support, meant to give a sense of normalcy in the lives of children, and a sense that no matter the circumstance, education must continue.
The distribution is timed to coincide with the resumption of classes at the end of a two week disruption and with the cessation of military activity in the Northern Gaza Strip.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL REMINDS PARLIAMENTARIANS OF THEIR POTENTIAL
In remarks delivered this morning to the annual UN hearing of the Inter-parliamentary Union, Deputy Secretary-General, Louise Frechette, reminded parliamentarians that they can do much to help the world deal with the challenges it is facing.
She focused on the work of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, and on the Millennium Development Goals.
Parliamentarians, she added, must take a broad and long view of peace, not allowing commitments to peace-building efforts to wither away after an initial burst of international attention. She also asked each one of them to work with their home governments to answer the urgent call for blue helmets, civilian police and political and financial support for peace operations.
FIVE PEOPLE KILLED BY EXPLOSION IN AFGHAN PROVINCE: The
UN Stabilization Mission in Afghanistan reported that yesterday, a vehicle was destroyed in an explosion in the southern
Afghan province of Paktika, killing five people: an electoral worker, a driver and three others. The area where the incident happened is known to have many mines and improvised explosive devices.
POOR NEED TO BE INVOLVED IN HUNGER ERADICATION PLANS: Hunger eradication and poverty alleviation programmes
cannot be effective unless the poor have a voice in the planning and implementation of schemes meant to help them, according to a new report by the
Food and Agricultures Sustainable Development Department.
UNICEF HANDS OVER DRILLING RIGS FOR DROUGHT-AFFECTED STATES IN ETHIOPIA:
UNICEF today handed over two shallow-well drilling rigs to the Ethiopian Government. Theyre to be used in the drought-prone regions of Afar and Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region. Each rig is expected to last for 10 years and will provide drinking water to at least half a million people in each region.
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