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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-02-09
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPOKESMAN'S NOON BRIEFING
BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Thursday, February 9, 2006
SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES RESPONSIBILITY IN CARTOON ISSUE
press encounter this morning, the Secretary-General was asked about the recent publication of caricatures of the prophet Muhammad, and, while he underlined his support for freedom of speech, he also pointed to the need to exercise responsibility and judgment. Quite honestly, he said, I cannot understand why any editor will publish cartoons at this time which inflames and pours oil on the fire.
At the same time, he reiterated that innocent civilians should not be attacked, and stressed that violence must be condemned as unacceptable.
He also talked about his meeting this afternoon with the Israeli Foreign Minister, the recent Palestinian elections and his upcoming trip to Washington.
Asked whether the Secretary-General condemns the publication of the cartoons, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General is a great believer in free speech and freedom of expression, which are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet he noted that respect for religion is also protected in that Declaration, and that the two need not cancel each other out.
The Secretary-General, he noted, had reaffirmed his support for free speech while questioning why anyone would republish the caricatures at this delicate time.
The Spokesman said that the issue underscores the need for greater dialogue among people so that these misunderstandings do not occur.
Asked why the
Alliance of Civilizations had not spoken out on the issue, the Spokesman said that Shamil Idriss, the Deputy Director of the Alliance Secretariat, was available for interviews. He noted that the founders of that initiative, Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero Rodriguez and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had recently written an article on the controversy, and both have also been speaking out about it.
ANNAN SAYS NEW FORCE IN DARFUR TO BE MOBILE, WELL-EQUIPPED
When asked about the future UN peacekeeping operation in
Darfur, the Secretary-General
said such a force would have a completely different concept of operation than the current one. He described the future force as a highly mobile one that would be able to crisscross the territory in armored personnel carriers and jeeps. Furthermore, the force would also have tactical air assets to be able to be on the ground when there is an SOS, not to arrive after the harm had been done.
He said such a force would be able to send a message to the militia and the people causing the damage that it is everywhere, and it will be there on time to prevent them from intimidating and killing innocent civilians.
But such a force would require the participation of governments with highly trained troops who are also well equipped, he said. It is not going to be easy for the big and powerful countries with armies to delegate to third world countries. They will have to play a part if we are going to stop the carnage that we see in Darfur.
SECURITY COUNCIL CONGRATULATES HAITIANS ON ELECTIONS
Security Council held a meeting with the troop contributing countries to the UN mission in Haiti this morning before going into closed consultations on the same item.
Hédi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, provided an update on the Haitian elections.
The Council then adopted a presidential statement following consultations, commending the people of Haiti on the holding of the first round of elections and congratulating them for taking a fundamental step towards the restoration of democracy and stability in the country. The Council called on all parties to respect the outcome of the elections and renounce all forms of violence.
VOTE COUNTING CONTINUES IN HAITI
UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti says that so far, about 15% of the tally sheets have arrived at the tabulation center in
About 90% of the tallies have arrived at the local tabulation offices in other parts of the country, and from there theyll be picked up and brought to the capital.
Haitis Provisional Electoral Council says it will post some results today at 6:00 p.m. local time. It also says that preliminary results will be available Friday night or Saturday morning.
FOOD AID RESUMES IN GUIGLO, COTE DIVOIRE
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the UN
mission in Côte dIvoire today report that UN agencies and NGOs have resumed distribution of food in the western Ivorian city of Guiglo.
The World Food Programme and its partners have delivered almost 300 metric tons of food to the city that was racked by violence in late January.
Assistance to the area was suspended when the UN agencies and NGOs came under violent attack between January 17-19.
The food aid was delivered to malnourished children being cared for in a nutritional center, some 13,000 internally displaced people in the area, and refugees sheltering in two camps near Guiglo.
Also in Cote dIvoire, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative,
Pierre Schori, today kicked off a three-day seminar that is bringing together leaders from all factions there, in an attempt to clarify and reach a full understanding of the roadmap for peace, as outlined in UN and African Union resolutions.
U.N. SAYS CLOSURES NEGATIVELY AFFECT PALESTINE ECONOMY
Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, in a report today, studies the impact of closures on the Palestinian economy, and finds that the barrier has had a negative economic impact on all communities near it, particularly those to the east of it.
Most rural communities in the West Bank have been affected by intensified closure since 2000, the report says. At the same time, it notes the way in which agriculture and livestock rearing have been used to alleviate the effects of closure, and the way that more women have been working to compensate for mens lost income.
The report recommends an immediate effort to enhance local infrastructure and to enhance access to markets and employment.
U.N. URGES DISPLACED PERSONS TO MOVE FROM POLLUTED CAMPS
Mission in Kosovo, along with the
World Health Organization and the UN
Childrens Fund, today stepped up efforts to urge Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian displaced persons to leave lead-polluted camps and move to a safer environment that the UN Mission has offered.
says the only solution to the problem of lead pollution at several camps for the displaced is to move them immediately to a safer location, Camp Osterode. That camp has been cleaned up by UNMIK following recommendations from US environmental engineers.
U.N. CALLS FOR MORE ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN BUILDINGS, CARS
Earlier today the world's Environment Ministers wrapped up a three-day special
session of the
UN Environment Programmes Governing Council in Dubai with
calls for rapid and global improvements in the energy efficiency of buildings, factories and cars.
They said these changes are needed if the world is to overcome its dependency on fossil fuels.
REGIONAL NARCOTICS CENTER SET FOR KAZAKHSTAN
Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reports that five Central Asian countries, together with Russia and Azerbaijan, reached agreement at a two-day ministerial meeting in Tashkent to set up a regional coordination center in Almaty, Kazakhstan, to fight illicit drug trafficking.
Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of UNODC, said that the coordination centers establishment is a great step forward in strengthening cooperation, at a time when, in recent years, about 1,000 tons of Afghan opium have been trafficked through Central Asian countries into Russia. He warns, The threat to the region is serious, not least because of the possibility of drugs money funding terrorist groups.
U.N. MANAGEMENT HAS BEEN CONSULTING STAFF ON REFORM
Asked about a meeting of the UN Staff Union that will take place this afternoon, the Spokesman said that he expected that a UN Human Resources Department official will be present at that meeting.
Dujarric stressed that there has been a substantial amount of consultations, and a constant dialogue, between UN management and staff at large on reform issues.
In October of last year, he noted, the head of the Human Resources Department sent out a note to all heads of Departments, administrative chiefs of peacekeeping missions and the heads of all staff associations, asking them for input and suggestions on the overhaul of staff regulations and other human resources issues. In December, the same request went out to all UN staff.
Asked about comments from some staff that the process was one-sided, the Spokesman said that its been a two-way street.
He said that the United Nations had fully consulted with staff regarding the new policy on whistleblower protection, since a staff buy-in was necessary for that policy to be effective.
U.N. SAYS ETHIOPIA-ERITREA BORDER AREA IS TENSE
Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) reports that the military situation in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) and adjacent areas remains tense. Routine troop movements have been noted on Ethiopian and Eritrean sides. The ban imposed by the Eritrean Government on UNMEE helicopters is still in place. Restrictions are continuing on the movement of UNMEE patrols inside the TSZ.
The Mission also reported that a Bangladeshi peacekeeper fell seriously ill, suffering from chest pains, on February 4. A medevac request, immediately forwarded to the Eritrean Commissioner to permit UNMEE to use the helicopter to urgently transport the peacekeeper to Asmara was not responded to. The peacekeeper was eventually evacuated by road on the same day.
The trip took 14 hours, by road, through difficult terrain thus putting the peacekeepers life in grave danger. On arrival in Asmara, medical treatment was provided to him. He is now in stable condition. The mission spokesman said this was the ninth such medevac case since the helicopter ban went into effect late last year.
U.N. SAYS NOT ENOUGH BEING DONE FOR AIDS CHILDREN VICTIMS: The global response to children affected by HIV and AIDS does not come close to matching the enormity of their rapidly expanding plight, according to a
statement issued by the Joint UN
Programme on HIV/AIDS, the UN
Childrens Fund and the UK Department for International Development. By 2010 an estimated 18 million children in sub-Saharan Africa alone will be orphaned by the disease. Children living with sick and dying parents remain extremely vulnerable, and an estimated 4 million infected children do not have access to appropriate treatments. The statement was issued in connection with a meeting of the Global Partners Forum hosted by the three agencies in London.
U.N. PUBLISHES ADDITIONS TO AL QAIDA LIST: There is a
press release out of additions to the list of individuals and entities belonging to or associated with Al-Qaida and the Taliban, as established by the so-called
1267 committee. The Security Council obliges all States to freeze the assets, prevent the entry into or the transit through their territories, and prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale and transfer of arms and military equipment with regard to the individuals/entities included on the list.
U.N. DOES NOT DISCLOSE DETAILS OF SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS: Asked about UN security levels in Nepal, the Spokesman said that staff security is a paramount concern for the United Nations, but added that the United Nations does not disclose in public the operational details of its security arrangements.
PROBE CONTINUES ON DEATHS OF GUATEMALAN PEACEKEEPERS: Asked about the UN investigation into the killing of Guatemalan peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Spokesman said that investigation still has not been completed. The United Nations passed on the information it had at the time to Guatemalas Minister of Defence, about a week ago, and will fully inform the Guatemalan authorities once the investigation has been completed.
Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
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New York, NY 100178
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