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United Nations Daily Highlights, 05-01-27
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPOKESMAN'S NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
ASSOCIATE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Thursday, January 27, 2005
ANNAN TO ATTEND AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT IN NIGERIA
The Secretary-General will depart tomorrow for Abuja, Nigeria, where he will attend the African Union summit.
He is scheduled to return to New York on Tuesday.
EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR WARNS OF HUMANITARIAN CHALLENGES IN AFRICA
Jan Egeland, the
UNs Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, briefed the
Security Council on humanitarian challenges in Africa.
Drawing attention to humanitarian conditions in Northern Uganda, he also said that, in Darfur, the high level of insecurity is severely limiting the humanitarian communitys ability to reach hundreds of thousands of people who depend on assistance to survive.
He noted that, in Darfur, in January, the
World Food Programme has only reached about 900,000 people so far, or 50% of its target.
He also highlighted the plight of six million people in six countries in Southern Africa who will be unable to meet their food needs this year, primarily because of the triple threat of food insecurity,
HIV/AIDS and weakened capacity for governance.
SUDAN: FIGHTING HAMPERS AID DELIVERY IN DARFUR
The UN Mission in Sudan continues to report tension, fighting and attacks on villages in Darfur,
Sudan, which have resulted in dozens of civilians killed and thousands displaced.
Due to the reported attacks, some areas of Darfur have been identified as no-go areas for UN agencies.
In South Darfur, UN human rights monitors are particularly concerned that victims of human rights violations are continue to pay fees in order to receive treatment at the Nyala hospital, despite representations from the
World Health Organization and other agencies.
UN agencies are also concerned about health conditions in Kalma camp for the displaced. Contaminated water, chest infections, exhaustion and diarrhea are believed to be the main causes of death.
Asked when the Secretary-General is going to receive the International Commission of Inquirys report on Sudan, the Spokeswoman said that the Commission had completed its work on January 25 and the report had arrived at UN headquarters today. The Secretary-General, after receiving the report, would give it to the Government of Sudan, giving them three days time to respond. After that, early next week, the report was expected to go, in English, to the Security Council, and would be made available to the press at that time.
UNICEF HELPS RE-OPEN SCHOOLS IN SOUTHERN SUDAN
stockpiling tents and classroom materials, training teachers, building schools, and assisting education officials to enroll students for the first academic year of the post-war period.
Anticipating the return of thousands of children to the region -- following this months peace agreement between the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement -- education authorities are planning to re-open schools at the end of March.
U.N. MISSION SPEAKS OUT AGAINST MILITIAS IN EASTERN D.R. CONGO
UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has denounced destabilization attempts in Ituri, in the countrys east, provoked by elements of the militias known as the Union of Congolese Patriots and the Front of the Nationalists for Integration.
The Mission is calling on the leaders of these armed groups who are about to become integrated into the national army of the
Democratic Republic of the Congo as senior officers to assume their responsibilities and instruct their militia members to hand in their weapons within the framework of the disarmament and reintegration program for Ituri.
The Mission says that its disarmament and reintegration process in Ituri has been slowed down for a few weeks because of the destabilization attempts, and because of threats made against militia members who want to give up their arms.
According to the latest statistics, as of 24 January 2005, a total number of 2,474 former fighters have entered into the transit centers in Ituri, and 14,499 weapons and munitions have been handed in.
In addition, the UN Mission has been distributing humanitarian aid in some towns alongside the Congo River, in the countrys east, and UN peacekeepers have been distributing drinking water in collaboration with Doctors Without Borders in Kimbanséké, which is a poor district of Kinshasa, where a typhoid epidemic has broken out.
D.R. CONGO: EXPERTS REPORT URGES TARGET OF ARMS EMBARGO TO BE REVISITED
report to the
Security Council by the Group of Experts on the arms embargo on the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was released today.
In it, the experts recommend that the target of the embargo be revisited so as to clarify its terms and exemptions.
They also recommend that the arms embargo be extended to cover all of the DRC, with the exceptions of the
UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Etat-Major as well as for the supply of non-lethal material and certain forms of training.
The report is still being considered by the
DRC Sanctions Committee in advance its consideration by the Security Council.
U.N. MISSION WELCOMES INAUGURATION OF
AFGHANISTANS INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION
UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan today
welcomed the inauguration of that countrys Independent Electoral Commission, calling its establishment a major step in the implementation of the new Afghan Constitution.
The start of the Commission, the UN Mission added, marks the formal beginning of the process leading to upcoming parliamentary and local elections. The UN Mission is committed to providing all possible support to that process.
UN Human Rights High Commissioner, Louise Arbour, and the Executive Director of the
UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, are scheduled to visit Afghanistan in the near future.
HEALTH AGENCY WARNS OF RISK OF MALARIA IN TSUNAMI-AFFECTED AREAS
World Health Organization (WHO)
warns that there is an increased risk of diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever, across tsunami-affected areas in Southeast Asia. The danger has been brought on by stagnant water, combined with the onset of Indonesia and Sri Lankas rainy seasons.
To prevent an epidemic, WHO is providing insecticide-treated bed-nets, chemicals to kill larvae, and other supplies.
MORE THAN $200 MILLION SOUGHT FOR NORTH KOREAN FOOD AID
World Food Programme has announced that, for 2005, it needs 500,000 tons of commodities, valued at more than $200 million, to assist 6.5 million North Koreans.
Noting that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is facing severe food shortages, the agency says that millions of children, women and elderly people are barely managing to survive.
According to a recent joint assessment by WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization, domestic cereal production is forecast to rise by 2.4 per cent to 4.24 million tons in 2005. However, it will remain well below the minimum requirement of 5.13 million tons.
U.S. MILITARY PLAYING CRUCIAL ROLE IN PROVIDING SECURITY FOR IRAQI ELECTIONS
Asked whether the United States had asked for a retraction from comments made on Wednesday by Carina Perelli, Director of the Electoral Assistance Division, following which the Spokesman issued a
statement, the Spokeswoman said there had been no such request for retraction.
Asked what the UN policy on U.S. participation in the elections is, the Spokeswoman reiterated, as the statement made clear, that the U.S. military, along with the Iraqi security forces, are playing a crucial role in providing security for Iraqi citizens who will be voting.
She added that Perelli Wednesday briefed the press on the technical preparations for the election, and Perelli did not intend to criticize the US military's profile.
In response to further questions concerning the release of the statement, the Spokeswoman said that the period before the elections was a sensitive time, and the United Nations does not want anything its officials say to be misinterpreted and turned into a divisive issue. Everyone, she added, agrees on the need for successful elections.
Asked whether the U.S. Government had been pressuring the Spokesmans Office, she said it had not.
Asked whether the statement used the word mis-spoke to mean lied, she said it did not.
OIL-FOR-FOOD INVESTIGATION BEING LED BY HIGHLY RESPECTED INDIVIDUAL: Asked whether there are any conflicts of interest involving Paul Volcker, the Spokeswoman said that Volcker is a highly respected individual leading an important investigation. She declined further comment until Volckers panel comes out with its report, which is due in a matter of days.
U.N. OFFICIALS EXPECTED TO SERVE OUT THEIR TERMS: Asked whether Dileep Nair, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, whose term expires in the spring, or Ruud Lubbers, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, whose term expires at the end of the year, would be resigning before their terms ended, the Spokeswoman said she had not heard anything about that.
NUMBER OF COUNTRIES GIVING TO U.N. POPULATION FUND REACHES NEW HIGH: A total of 166 countries
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, in 2004 a record high in the Funds 35-year history. The top six donors were the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Japan, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Contributions to UNFPA regular resources in 2004 were $326 million (provisional), the highest total ever, passing for the first time the 1996 high of $300 million.
F.A.O. CONSIDERS GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS: A consultation of experts convened at the
UN Food and Agriculture Organization
recommended that any responsible deployment of Genetically Modified crops needs to comprise the whole technology development process, from the pre-release risk assessment, to biosafety considerations and post release monitoring. Environmental goals must also encompass the maintenance and protection of basic natural resources such as soil, water and biodiversity.
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