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United Nations Daily Highlights, 05-01-18
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPOKESMAN'S NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
ASSOCIATE SPOKESWOMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
U.S. AGRICULTURE SECRETARY VENEMAN CHOSEN TO HEAD UNICEF
Secretary-General Kofi Annan today
announced the appointment of Ann M. Veneman, outgoing Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as the new Executive Director of the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF).
The Secretary-General, at a press conference Tuesday morning, introduced Veneman, who will succeed Carol Bellamy who will complete her second five-year term as UNICEF Executive Director at the end of April.
In announcing her appointment, the Secretary-General noted her outstanding qualifications and drew attention to her achievements in the area of agricultural development and food security.
She has focused strongly on new ways of feeding the hungry around the world thus making an important contribution to the first of the eight Millennium Development Goals. And she has been a long-term and steadfast supporter of programmes to advance the welfare of children, both at home and abroad, he said.
HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE TO TSUNAMI ON TRACK, ANNAN SAYS
The Secretary-General today opened the General Assemblys plenary meeting on the tsunami by
saying that, during his recent visit to tsunami-affected countries, he saw mile after mile of desolation but also saw examples of the best that humanity has to offer.
If this disaster was unprecedented, he said, so was the international response. More than 60 governments have pledged assistance so far, while the United Nations mobilized itself early and quickly. Official pledges to the UN flash appeal now stand at $739 million, or more than three-quarters of what we asked for.
Today, we can say with some confidence that the humanitarian response is on track, the Secretary-General said. He added that he will name a special envoy by the end of this week to ensure coordination of the response and encourage long-term engagement.
There were 44 speakers inscribed for todays meeting.
The General Assembly is considering a resolution which, among other things, requests the Secretary-General to explore ways to further strengthen the rapid response capacities for immediate humanitarian relief efforts of the international community.
DISASTER REDUCTION IS AN ESSENTIAL INVESTMENT IN OUR COMMON FUTURE
Its not enough to pick up the pieces when a disaster like last months tsunami occurs. Instead, we must work to prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future.
Those remarks were part of the Secretary-Generals
video message to the
World Conference on Disaster Reduction, which opened today in Kobe, Japan.
The Secretary-General added that the world was looking to the conference to do three things: help make communities more resilient in the face of natural disasters; mobilize resources and empower populations; and galvanize global action.
Opening the conference was the UNs Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, who
said that disaster risk reduction is not an additional expense, but rather an essential investment in our common future.
Egeland also proposed that over the next 10 years, a minimum of 10 percent of the billions now spent on disaster relief by all nations should be earmarked for disaster risk reduction.
In conjunction with the conference, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs today officially inaugurated its redesigned web site,
ReliefWeb, saying that the sites new format could help the aid community improve the speed and effectiveness of relief efforts around the world.
DEVASTATION CAUSED BY TSUNAMI IS DESCRIBED AS "STAGGERING"
Kevin M. Kennedy, Director of the Coordination and Response Division of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told reporters at the noon briefing that the teams who had finally been able to assess the true dimensions of the disaster described that they found along the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, was staggering.
"It underlines the enormous devastation caused by the tsunami and the extent of human suffering," Kennedy said. "In some areas, fatality rates topped 75% and 100% of homes were destroyed."
He also said the vast majority of those in need have received some aid. "We believe that there are still some isolated pockets," he added. "Soon we'll reach the point where we are reaching everybody in need."
In Sri Lanka, Maragreta Wahlstrom, the UN Special Coordinator on the crisis, went to Tamil areas. She reports that aid is going smoothly; no aid inequity in aid distribution observed, Kennedy said.
NEW HELICOPTERS HELP U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY GET RELIEF SUPPLIES
TO TSUNAMI SURVIVORS FASTER
In Aceh, Indonesia, the
work of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been bolstered by Swiss helicopters, which have started flying the agencys tents and kitchen sets into hard-hit areas on the west coast.
UNHCR's large lightweight tents, which can accommodate 10 people, are now being set up in the towns of Banda Aceh and in Meulaboh. The agency is also in the process of setting up an emergency shelter camp for some 1,000 displaced people in Meulaboh.
Elsewhere in Aceh, this morning a ship arrived in the town of Calang from Banda Aceh carrying UNHCR tents, blankets, plastic sheets, plastic rolls, kitchen sets and jerry cans.
Meanwhile, three portable warehouses were flown over the weekend to Sri Lanka to store relief supplies from UN agencies. Two other warehouses are expected to arrive shortly. In addition, some 7,500 tents are being sent to Sri Lanka from UNHCRs stockpile in Jordan.
The refugee agency has also dispatched a ship carrying blankets and plastic sheeting to Somalia. It is expected to arrive in the northeastern port of Bossasso on Thursday. Two more ships are set to sail from the Kenyan port of Mombasa within the next few days, and will bring UNHCR's total contribution to tsunami survivors in Somalia to 32,500 blankets, 10,000 plastic sheets, 15,000 kitchen sets, 10,000 jerry cans and 30,000 sleeping mats.
Also in Somalia, the World Food Programme (WFP) is providing assistance to 22,500 beneficiaries. That number is up from 15,000 last week.
SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED BY COUNTER-TERRORISM COMMITTEE
Security Council held an open meeting on the work of the
Counter-Terrorism Committee. The Committees Chair, Ambassador Andrey Denisov of Russia, briefed the Council on its recent work. At the end of the open meeting, the Council adopted a Presidential Statement concerning the Committees work.
Earlier today, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution which responded to recent requests by the Secretary-General considering the appointment of judges to specific cases being tried in the
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Security Council members today will also hold their monthly luncheon with the
INT'L CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL CONVICTS BOSNIAN SERBS OF WAR CRIMES
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia yesterday sentenced a former Bosnian Serb colonel to 18 years imprisonment, and a Bosnian Serb major to 9 years, after finding both to have committed crimes that resulted in the execution of thousands of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995.
The Tribunal, in particular, found that Vidoje Blagojevic was guilty of complicity to commit genocide for the actions he took as the commander of a brigade in Srebrenica.
FOOD INSECURITY AND FIGHTING SPAWN DISPLACEMENTS IN CENTRAL AFRICA
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that residents of Burundis northern provinces continue to leave the area due to food insecurity. Also, a cholera outbreak in Bujumbura suburbs has affected over 50 people, according to the Office.
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
reports that the number of refugees fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) into Uganda has risen to 20,000 in the past week. The refugees say theyre fleeing fighting in the DRCs east, and UNHCR says it has received reports that more refugees are on their way.
ANNAN TO JOIN PRESS EVENT FOR SPECIAL SESSION ON NAZI DEATH CAMPS
Tomorrow (Wednesday) at noon, there will be a press event linked to the General Assemblys
Special Session on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps.
The Secretary-General will be joined by the President of the General Assembly and the Permanent Representatives of the Sessions sponsors: Israel, Russia, the United States, Canada, Australia, and Luxembourg on behalf of the European Union.
U.N. AGENCIES CALL FOR SWIFT IMPLEMENTATION OF MILLENNIUM GOALS: The Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development today
called for immediate action by developed and developing countries to ensure that the goals of the 2000 Millennium Summit are achieved. Also, the UN Population Fund
welcomed the Millennium Project's emphasis on the critical roles of gender and reproductive health in poverty reduction.
CONVENTION ON JURISDICTIONAL IMMUNITIES OF STATES AND THEIR PROPERTY SIGNED: Yesterday, Morocco and Austria became the first and second countries to sign the UN Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and Their Property.
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