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United Nations Daily Highlights, 05-01-05

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

ARCHIVES

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPOKESMAN'S BRIEFING

BY MARIE OKABE

ASSOCIATE SPOKESWOMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

SECRETARY-GENERAL TELLS TSUNAMI VICTIMS THEY ARE NOT ALONE

The Secretary-General today arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia, where tomorrow he will launch an appeal to respond to the needs following the

earthquake and tsunami that affected countries from Indonesia to Somalia.

Before arriving in Jakarta, the Secretary-General told CNN in an interview that the response by Governments and the public had been marvelous. He noted that there was clear leadership at the beginning and everyone accepted the UNs leadership.

His message to those affected by the disaster, he added, is that the international community is with you. Youre not alone.

Upon his arrival in Jakarta, the Secretary-General met with Indonesian Defense Minister Juwarno Sudarsono, with whom he discussed relief efforts in Aceh, one of the hardest-hit provinces.

He then had an internal planning meeting in the afternoon with UN Development Programme Administrator Mark Malloch Brown and UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Margareta Walstrohm, who has been leading the UN relief efforts in South Asia over the past week.

He afterward met with more than 300 assembled UN staff in the country, and offered condolences for the enormous losses that Indonesia suffered in the natural disaster. Later, he conferred with heads of UN agencies, funds and programs involved in the relief effort, on their progress in coordinating operations.

Asked about the composition of the Secretary-Generals delegation, the Spokeswoman said it included Mark Malloch Brown, in his capacity as Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and noted that the Secretary-General was also meeting with Margareta Walstrohm and other senior officials during his travels.

Asked whether the United Nations was involved in discussions on an early warning system for the Indian Ocean, the Spokeswoman said that the immediate focus on Thursday would be on emergency needs in the affected area. She added that the United Nations and many Governments are involved in early warning and prevention efforts, which will be one of the main topics taken up at the conference on natural disasters taking place in Kobe, Japan.

EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR WELCOMES INCREASING PLEDGES

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland said that we are now recording pledges of between $3 billion and $4 billion, which, he said, shows that it is indeed the world coming together in a manner we have never, ever seen before.

He commended the immense efforts by the national Governments in the affected areas to assist their own people, saying that some countries had witnessed their most effective relief efforts ever.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has

sent millions of water purification tablets to the tsunami-hit areas, but says that clean water is still in short supply in Aceh and eastern Sri Lanka. WHO is also concerned about the general conditions of 1,500 pregnant women in the Maldives, who are expected to deliver within six months.

So far, WHO has provided health emergency kits for more than two million people in the region, and surgical equipment for operations for more than 15,000 people.

Meanwhile, the UN Population Fund

warns that increased security and better design of humanitarian assistance are urgently needed to minimize attacks on women in hard-hit areas. The warning comes one day after a Sri Lanka-based womens group reported rape and physical abuse of displaced women and girls, since the tsunami hit.

In other news, a flight carrying 100 tons of relief supplies from the UN refugee agencys central warehouse in Copenhagen,

landed in Jakarta today.

In Somalia, in the north-east Puntland and north-west Somaliland regions, the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) is

working to make an initial distribution of plastic sheeting, mattresses, blankets, jerry cans and kitchen utensils to some 5,000 households along the coastline that were hit by the tsunami.

Also in Somalia, the World Food Programme has distributed food aid to 12,000 Somalis affected by the tsunami.

U.N. ENVOY SAYS U.N. WILL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT IRAQIS DURING TRANSITIONAL PROCESS

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, today met with Jordanian Prime Minister Faisal Al-Fayez in Amman.

Their discussion focused on the current situation in Iraq, including security, efforts to advance the political process and preparations for the upcoming Iraqi elections, to be held on 30 January.

Qazi stressed that the United Nations will continue to support the Iraqis during the transitional process. They also discussed the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Iraq's neighboring countries which will be held in Amman tomorrow. Qazi will attend that meeting.

Qazi met earlier today with Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Al-Mua'sher for similar talks.

Asked about the comments from Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawar that Iraq would seek the UNs advice on postponing the elections, the Spokeswoman reiterated that the United Nations has not received any official request from the President, and that it is up to the Iraqis to make the final decision on the timing of elections.

SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS MOMENT OF SILENCE FOR TSUNAMI VICTIMS

At 10:00 a.m., the Security Council began consultations on its program of work for January.

On behalf of the Council

presidency, Argentine Foreign Minister Rafael Bielsa led a moment of silence for the tsunami victims.

Then, in addition to the January program, Council members also approved the list of chairs and co-chairs of the subsidiary bodies of the Security Council for 2005.

Afterward, the Council President issued statements to the press in which Council members welcomed the initialing of the peace agreement for Sudan on December 31; hoped that restraint will prevail to allow the Palestinians to conduct elections in a free, fair and inclusive manner; and expressed their heartfelt condolences to the tsunami victims and welcomed UN efforts in response to that crisis.

SUDAN: U.N. TO ASSESS CONDITIONS IN NORTH DARFUR FOR RETURNING REFUGEES

The United Nations is dispatching an assessment mission to the Tina area, in

Sudans North Darfur province, to evaluate the conditions under which a large number of refugees are to return.

Officials from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and non-governmental organizations traveled to the camps of Tawila and Dali, also in North Darfur, on Monday to assess the possibility of resuming humanitarian activity there.

Displaced persons in those camps expressed a number of concerns, including the doubling of prices of some commodities and a lack of drugs and health services. They also voiced their fear of potential new attacks.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

MINE FUNDING SHORTFALL: UN agencies and non-governmental organizations working in 30 countries affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war are facing a funding shortfall of close to $300 million, for projects designed to eliminate the threat of landmines and assist victims this year. This is one of the findings of the "Portfolio of Mine Action Projects 2005," a report released today by the

UN Mine Action Service, the

UN Development Programme and

UNICEF.

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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