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United Nations Daily Highlights, 05-01-07
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPOKESMAN'S BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
ASSOCIATE SPOKESWOMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Friday, January 7, 2005
ANNAN VISITS AREAS IN INDONESIA MOST AFFECTED BY TSUNAMI
Secretary-General Kofi Annan today saw the areas in Indonesia that had been hit worst by the
earthquake and tsunami, as he flew by helicopter over sites in Aceh.
He touched down at the district capital of Meulaboh, a fishing town of some 90,000 people.
He received a military briefing at the airport, describing clean-up operations, the restoration of potable water and electricity and the rebuilding of schools. The commander said that he did not have enough tents for tens of thousands of people displaced by the disaster.
The Secretary-General and Nane Annan went on to examine the damage done to the town, where the estimated death toll is in the tens of thousands.
Frogmen were seen searching for bodies offshore, while fishing boats lay overturned in the streets, amid buildings that had collapsed. At a
press conference afterward, the Secretary-General said, I have never seen such utter destruction, mile after mile. And you wonder, where are the people? What happened to them?
He said he had visited displaced people in the camps, who will need help with post-traumatic stress, and will also need help to build their homes.
Asked about relief efforts, he said, I think we are moving ahead. He said a joint command post has been established in Aceh, which should tighten cooperation and coordination on the ground even further.
Asked about criticism that the United Nations has been tardy with relief efforts, the Secretary-General said that such criticism is unfair, and that the United Nations is as capable as its Member States allow it to be. Overall, he said, cooperation is going well.
He was accompanied at the briefing by the heads of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank.
The Secretary-General then left Indonesia and arrived in Sri Lanka, where he will also visit tsunami-affected areas.
[Kevin Kennedy of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that there had been substantial progress made in relief efforts. By this weekend, he said, all those in need in Sri Lanka will have been reached and provided with food and non-food assistance. Food is in place for Somalia, as well. In Indonesia, he said, about 50 UN staff have set up work in Banda Aceh.]
MORE VICTIMS BEING REACHED BUT SOME LOGISTICAL PROBLEMS REMAIN
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has been working with the local authorities on the ground and says it is now reaching more and more of the victims of the tsunami.
OCHA notes that while there was good coordination between the local authorities, the United Nations, and non-governmental organizations, there remained some logistical problems.
The Executive Director of the
World Food Programme (WFP),
James Morris, was today visiting Aceh and will hold a press conference in Jakarta. Meanwhile, WFP is continuing with its distribution of food aid. To date, WFP had distributed food aid to more than one million persons.
UNICEF, the UN Childrens Fund, reports that a cargo plane had arrived in the Maldives today carrying educational and emergency relief supplies. Some of these materials are aimed to get the school system up and running again, as they will help set up 73 temporary classrooms ahead of the back-to-school effort, which would start on 25 January.
UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is continuing its activities using its existing resources and a $5 million loan from its emergency reserves.
In Sri Lanka, UNHCR was airlifting extra relief supplies this weekend, in order to replenish all the stocks which it had distributed in an around-the-clock operation which began the day that the tsunami struck.
UNHCR was also trying to strengthen the existing distribution network which would be used to support all of the UN agencies. On Saturday, a charter flight from Frankfurt carrying five huge portable warehouses and 10,000 plastic sheets from Copenhagen is scheduled to arrive in Colombo.
The Director-General of the
World Health Organization (WHO),
Lee Jong-wook, was today in Sri Lanka where he is visiting tsunami-affected areas. After visiting Aceh on Thursday, he expressed his admiration for the courage and determination of those working in the health sector with minimal hygienic and security resources. To date, there was no news of any epidemics arising in the tsunami-affected areas.
WHO says that in Indonesia, persons in camps in Banda Aceh were suffering from infected wounds, minor injuries, aspiration pneumonia, respiratory tract infection, diarrhoea, skin infection, and malaria. In Sri Lanka, diarrhoea and a few cases of scabies were reported.
U.N. ENVOY IN TALKS WITH IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER ON POLITICAL SITUATION
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for
Ashraf Qazi, met in Amman today with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari for talks that focused on the political situation in Iraq.
They also discussed preparations for the elections and the outcome of the Conference of the Foreign Ministers of Iraq's Neighboring Countries, which ended in Amman yesterday with a call on all Iraqis to participate in the forthcoming elections.
Qazi reiterated the importance of the Conference as a clear message of support by all Iraqs neighboring countries of Iraq to its political process and to the goal of advancing it towards building a democratic, secure and prosperous Iraq.
Qazi who arrived in Amman last Tuesday to represent the United Nations in the Conference, had underlined the importance of the participation of all Iraqis in the forthcoming elections, which represent a major step forward in the political process.
Asked about Qazis assessment of the prospects for January elections, the Spokeswoman said that Qazi has been quite clear bout his support for elections at the end of this month.
In response to a further question on the UN assessment of whether elections could take place as scheduled, she said the UN position has not changed, and that the decision on when the elections take place remains in the hands of the Iraqis. On the technical side, she added, elections are on track and the United Nations continues to support whatever course of action the Iraqis choose.
NEW APPOINTMENTS MADE IN DEPARTMENT OF PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS
Secretary-General today announced two appointments in the
Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
Major-General Randhir Kumar Mehta of India as
Military Adviser is replacing
Major-General Patrick Cammaert of the Netherlands, who has been named the Division Commander in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo for the
UN Mission in that country.
Also, Mark Kroeker of the United States was named as the new
Civilian Police Adviser, who is currently serving as the Police Commissioner for the
UN Mission in Liberia.
U.N. INVESTIGATION FINDS SIGNS CIVILIANS WERE EXECUTED IN DR CONGO
UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) says that it has the results of an investigation carried out at the end of last year by a multi-disciplinary team which was investigating human rights violations allegedly committed between 17 and 22 December in the town of Buramba, in the province of
The results of the investigation indicate that at least 30 civilians - including women and children - were killed by rebellious government troops, in reprisals to the murder of three of its own soldiers by forces of another armed group, made up of ex-Mayi Mayi from the so-called 'Jackson unit.'
MONUC says that the exact number of the civilian victims killed could be higher given that the rebel government troops could have burned a certain amount of bodies, and could have killed civilians in the hills overlooking Buramba.
It adds that these killings were followed by massive and systematic pillage of the dwellings and social infrastructure of the town. At the time of the teams visit to Buramba, it noted that the town which had an estimated population of 10,000 people before the attack had been completely deserted.
MONUC says its team carried out its mission in a climate insecurity and intimidation from the rebel government troops, which tried to conceal facts and continued to pester the civilian population.
Local civilian authorities and military officers encountered during the investigation deny that the civilians were executed by rebel government troops, and attribute their deaths to being caught in cross-fires during clashes.
Also today, the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services published a report concerning allegations of sexual exploitation by members of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
U.N. ENVOY CONCERNED ABOUT HARASSMENT OF NGO STAFF IN SUDAN
At a meeting of the Joint Implementation Mechanism in
Khartoum today, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Sudan,
Jan Pronk, expressed concern at the increasing harassment of staff of non-governmental organizations - mostly national - by local authorities in Darfur.
He also reminded the authorities of his request of observance of days of tranquility during the upcoming national
polio vaccine campaign.
Pronk will be attending the scheduled signing of the North-South peace agreement on Sunday and will then arrive in New York to brief the
Security Council next Tuesday on the latest report on Sudan. That report is expected to go to Council members later today.
PALESTINIAN ELECTION OBSERVERS BRIEFED BY ELECTION OFFICIALS
Over the last two days the UNs liaison and support units provided the opportunity for over 350 observers from 63 different delegations to be briefed by senior staff from the Palestinian Central Election Commission, as well as Palestinian security officials.
On election day, the UNs offices will continue to provide the necessary support for these observers to carry out their mission.
The UN will also organize a debriefing on Monday for the observers. The provisional results for the Presidential elections are expected on Monday morning.
INT'L CRIMINAL COURT RECEIVES REQUEST FROM CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
The Prosecutor of the
International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has received a letter sent on behalf of the government of the Central African Republic, asking for the Prosecutor to investigate potential crimes in that country.
The Prosecutor will carry out an analysis in order to determine whether to initiate an investigation. He will seek additional information, including the gravity of alleged crimes and any relevant national proceedings.
This referral is the third that has been submitted to the Prosecutor, following referrals from Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
NO SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING ON FRIDAY: There are no
Security Council meetings or consultations scheduled for today. On Monday, the Council has scheduled an open briefing, followed by consultations, on
PRIVATE SECTOR STEPS UP DONATIONS FOR TSUNAMI RELIEF: Amid the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in South Asia caused by the tsunami, private sector organizations around the world have stepped in with unprecedented donations in the form of financial aid, food, medicine and other supplies and services. The UN
Global Compact Office says that companies from all regions have given generously, with individual US companies demonstrating noteworthy levels of aid. The Global Compact Office is publishing a briefing note on the private sector response, which will be available early next week.
VICTIMS OF NATURAL DISASTERS TO BENEFIT FROM TELECOMMUNICATIONS: Victims of natural disasters will be able to benefit from faster and more effective rescue operations starting on Saturday, when the Tampere Convention enters into force. The Convention simplifies the use of life-saving telecommunications equipment in the 30 countries that have ratified it. The
Secretary-General said that, from the mobilization of assistance to the logistics chain, which will carry assistance to the intended beneficiaries, reliable telecommunications links are indispensable.
ANNAN HAS NO PLAN TO ASK SENIOR STAFF TO RESIGN: Asked whether UN senior staff had been asked to resign, the Spokeswoman said she had checked with Chef de Cabinet Iqbal Riza about that rumor, and he had said the
Secretary-General had no intention of asking that.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
Saturday, January 8
The Tampere Comvention, on providing telecommunications for disaster mitigation and relief, will enter into force.
Sunday, January 9
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, and Special Adviser Mohamed Sahnoun will attend the signing of the North-South peace agreement on Sudan in Naivasha, Kenya.
Monday, January 10
The International Meeting to Review the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States will take place in Port Louis, Mauritius, through Friday. The Secretary-General will attend the Meeting after he ends a visit to the Maldives earlier in the week.
The Security Council has scheduled an open briefing, followed by consultations, on Afghanistan.
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) will convene its 32nd Session at UN Headquarters.
In New York, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour will sign an agreement with Guatemalas Foreign Minister on opening a human rights office in Guatemala City.
Tuesday, January 11
The Security Council has scheduled an open briefing, followed by consultations, on Sudan. The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, will brief the Council.
At 11:15 a.m., the Canadian Mission is sponsoring a press briefing on the Three Amigos HIV/AIDS prevention program.
Wednesday, January 12
The Security Council has scheduled an open debate on Haiti.
Thursday, January 13
The Security Council has scheduled an open briefing, followed by consultations, on the Middle East.
Friday, January 14
At 11:15 a.m., Ambassador Jean-Marc Hoscheit of Luxembourg will brief on the program of the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union during the first half of 2005.
Humanitarian Affairs, who provided an update on assistance to the tsunami victims.
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