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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-02-17

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

ARCHIVES

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPOKESMAN'S NOON BRIEFING

BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, February 17, 2006

SECRETARY-GENERAL SENDS CONDOLENCES, AID TO PHILIPPINES

Secretary-General Kofi Annan is deeply saddened by the loss of life and destruction caused by the mudslide that hit the village of Guinsaugon on the southern part of the island of Leyte in the Philippines. He

extends his deepest condolences to the families of those who have been killed or injured in the disaster.

The

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is deploying a United National Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team to strengthen the Resident Coordinators Office in supporting the Government of the Philippines.

The United Nations stands ready to assist the Government further in alleviating this situation.

EMERGENCY FUNDS RELEASED FOR PHILIPPINE MUDSLIDE

OCHA today will release a $50,000 emergency grant to the Resident Coordinator in the Philippines for emergency response coordination.

The information received by OCHA from the Philippines Office of Civil Defense is that up to 2,000 people may have been buried in the landslide. Only three houses are still standing in the entire village of Guinsaugon.

SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON HAITI AND COTE DIVOIRE

The Security Council held closed consultations this morning and heard the daily briefing by the UN Secretariat on Haiti and Cote dIvoire.

On Haiti, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hedi Annabi told Council members that Haitis transitional government has welcomed the decision of Haitis Provisional Electoral Council on Rene Prevals victory, and that other candidates had acknowledged Prevals win.

He also said that counting on Haitis legislative elections has now resumed.

Afterwards, the Security Council President for the month of February, John Bolton, read out a press

statement in which he said Council members applaud the Haitian people for their patience and continuing commitment to democracy, and congratulate Preval on his victory.

Also on Haiti, the Secretary-General spoke with Rene Preval yesterday afternoon. During their conversation, the Secretary-General congratulated Preval and encouraged him to work on national reconciliation.

Meanwhile, the

UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) says that the situation on the ground is calm, with no reports of violence. MINUSTAH says residents in Port au Prince have returned to work.

On Cote dIvoire, Annabi told Council members that the United Nations and the African Union were co-chairing in Abidjan today the International Working Group, which is helping map out plans for elections in that country.

He also reported the completion of the transfer of a mechanized company of peacekeepers from the U.N.

mission in Liberia with the arrival of 14 armoured personal carriers. He asked the Council members to expedite their decision on the Secretary-General's request that a full battalion of peacekeepers be transferred temporarily from Liberia, plus a unit of police.

Annabi also briefed on a statement issued yesterday by the High Representative for elections, Antonio Monteiro, calling on the country's leadership to come to a political decision on the make up and work of the local election commission so it could quickly begin work on the elections scheduled for October.

EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR DESCRIBES DESTRUCTION IN COTE D'IVOIRE

Jan Egeland, the UN emergency relief coordinator, who is visiting Cote dIvoire this week today, told a meeting of the International Working Group there that he had profoundly shocked to witness the systematic destruction of the offices of humanitarian organizations in the western town of Guiglo. He said the offices had been pillaged, looted, destroyed and burned.

Even the medicines had been destroyed. he said.

Egeland said The most serious humanitarian challenges facing Cote dIvoire today are the protection of civilians and impunity for the criminal acts that have been perpetrated against civilians, as well as the humanitarian agencies working there."

ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT RECEIVES LETTER FROM NON-ALIGNED GROUP

The

President of the

General Assembly, Jan Eliasson, today received the troika of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). The topic for the discussion was the letter to the President of 14 February in which the NAM outlines its principled position regarding the relationship among the principal organs of the United Nations.

The President shares the concern of the NAM that issues that fall within the functions and powers of the General Assembly should be dealt with by the General Assembly. The balance between the principal organs of the Organization must be maintained.

The President of the General Assembly strongly believes that the authority of the General Assembly must be upheld and strengthened. He will, in close consultation with Member States, actively continue to explore ways and means through which this can be achieved. For instance, yesterday this issue was discussed in the first meeting of the Ad hoc Working Group on GA revitalization.

The President intends to continue to meet with the

Presidents of the

Security Council and

ECOSOC on a regular basis to ensure increased coherence and complementarity between the General Assembly -- the chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations and the other two principal organs.

Asked about comments made by U.S. Ambassador John Bolton on Thursday that the Secretary-General had told the Security Council luncheon that he did not agree that the Security Council should meet on the procurement issue, the Spokesman responded that the Secretary-General had only voiced his opinion that the issues of management, budget and procurement have generally been the purview of the General Assembly, while recognizing that the Security Council deals with the issue of peacekeeping.

That being said, the Spokesman added, the Secretariat will as always provide a briefer, as requested, by the Security Council on this very important issue.

Asked about a letter written on behalf of the Group of 77 by South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, the Spokesman later said that the Secretary-General wrote back to Kumalo. At the briefing, the Spokesman said the Secretariat understands the complaints expressed by the Ambassador and sees the need to keep the UN membership informed on procurement issues, and would do so.

Asked whether the Secretary-General had seen a letter co-written by U.S. Representatives Henry Hyde and Tom Lantos, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General was aware of that letter. That letter, he noted, was addressed to the Group of 77 and did not require a response from the Secretary-General.

Asked about comments by one Ambassador voicing concern at the leak of a draft audit on UN procurement, the Spokesman said that the United Nations takes the issue of procurement seriously, and understands the need for transparency and the sharing of information with the Member States that govern the United Nations. One of the lessons of Paul Volckers work, he recalled, is that audits are useful only if they are acted upon, and the United Nations is acting on the procurement audits with the awareness that it needs to brief the Member States on them.

Asked why Member States that pay a smaller share of the budget have more of a say than the United States, which pays the largest individual share, the Spokesman said that Member States have the right to see that their money is well-spent, whether they contribute one dollar or $100 million. He hoped that Member States would work constructively on their debates on UN reform so that they can move forward.

ANNAN RESPECTS PRESS FREEDOM

The Spokesman received a complaint from the UN Correspondents Association (UNCA) about an exchange between the Secretary-General and one UN correspondent on Thursday, from reporters who stressed that all journalists have the right to have their questions answered, and the Spokesman said that the United Nations respects the right of the press to ask questions.

The Secretary-General, he said, was asked a question and chose to answer with a question of his own. The substance of the question was also later answered.

The Spokesman said that the United Nations would remain accessible to all members of the press.

The reporter in question asked whether the Secretary-General was using his bully pulpit, in matters such as the caricature controversy, against the freedom of the press, and the Spokesman said that would be a misunderstanding of the Secretary-Generals stance.

The Secretary-General, he said, has been clear that he upholds freedom of the press, which is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the controversy over the caricatures, he had made it clear that that freedom should be exercised with judgment and responsibility.

REFUGEES ENCOURAGED TO RETURN TO LIBERIA

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today

said that because of what it called positive changes undertaken by the new government in Liberia, it will now actively promote voluntary repatriation for the estimated 160,000 Liberian refugees still outside their homeland.

Until now, UNHCR has "facilitated" the voyages of people who wanted to return, but they did not actively promote it.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC REFUGEES CROSSING INTO CHAD

UNHCR today

reports that some 2,500 refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) have crossed into southern Chad this week, fleeing violent attacks by bandits, armed rebels and security forces in the northern part of their homeland.

Some 15,000 Central Africans have fled to southern Chad over the past six months, adding to the 30,000 CAR. refugees already there since the 2003 civil war.

A high level meeting Monday in, Yaoundé, Cameroon, will bring together several UN agencies and NGOs for strategy planning and a joint appeal for assistance.

UNITED NATIONS SEEKS FUNDS TO MAINTAIN QUAKE OPERATIONS IN PAKISTAN

The

World Food Programme

says that $24 million is urgently needed to maintain its helicopter lifeline operation in Pakistan until the end of August, to assist thousands of victims of last years earthquake.

WFP is currently assisting 400,000 people in remote and cut-off areas who can only be reached by helicopter in what it says is the largest relief helicopter operation in the UNs history. The 20-helicopter airlift is now moving 300 metric tons of relief supplies every day.

UNICEF LOOKS TO YOUTH FOR SOLUTION TO AIDS PROBLEMS

The UN

Childrens Fund (UNICEF), as it

launches a youth project in Zimbabwe, says that young people are the solution to further reducing the HIV rate in that country.

Under the project, Zimbabwean youths work with UNICEFs home based care facilitators on their visits to HIV affected households. While the care facilitators provide primary care to the ill, youths carry out household chores and provide psychosocial support to their peers who have lost parents to HIV/AIDS. There are now more than 7,000 project volunteers in Zimbabwe.

The launch comes at a time when Zimbabwe is grappling with the worlds fifth highest HIV prevalence and ever increasing numbers of orphans.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

U.N.-SAUDI PLAN TO AID PALESTINIAN SCHOLARS: The UN

Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization today

announced a programme that will pay 75 percent of the school fees for some 19,000 Palestinian students. The program, funded by the Saudi Committee for the Relief of the Palestinian People, will enable 11 universities and 24 other schools, to grant fee waivers to needy students. The agency said that more than half of the waivers will be granted to female students.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME ENDS OPERATION IN ALBANIA: The

World Food Programme has

announced the end of its almost decade-long operation in Albania, marked by the official closure of its office in Tirana on 28 February. According to WFP, it is clear that fewer people need food assistance now. In future, WFP says it hopes that those who will require it will be assisted by the government.

DESPITE GOOD HARVEST, SUDAN WILL NEED FOOD AID: The

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and WFP have

said that while Sudan is likely to reap a reasonably good harvest in 2005-2006, almost seven million people will still require food aid over the coming year.

INTERNET FORUM TO TACKLE DEVELOPMENT ISSUES:

Nitin Desai, the Secretary-Generals Special Adviser for the

World Summit on the Information Society, today told reporters in Geneva that the Internet Governance Forum to be convened later this year could take up issues such as cyber crime and a range of development issues, such as Internet access. It is expected, he said, that the inaugural meeting of the Forum will take place in Athens this October or November, with more than 500 participants.

UNITED NATIONS IS. PLANNING MOBILE, ROBUST FORCE FOR DARFUR: Asked about planning for a possible UN force in Darfur, the Spokesman said that planning is going ahead on a more robust and mobile force, but added he had no timetable for that process. The United Nations, he said, is receiving assistance from U.S. military planners and is also seeking aid from other countries that can help to construct a robust force.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

Sunday, February 19

High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour will arrive in the Russian Federation.

Monday, February 20

Louise Arbour will travel to Nazran in the Republic of Ingushetia, where she will meet with the authorities and non-governmental groups.

Tuesday, February 21

The Security Council has scheduled a daily briefing by the UN Secretariat.

Wednesday, February 22

The Security Council has scheduled a public meeting for briefings by the chairmen of the Counter-Terrorism Committee and the Committees dealing with resolutions 1267 and 1540, as well as a daily briefing by the Secretariat.

Kjell Magne Bondevik, the Secretary-Generals Special Humanitarian Envoy for the Horn of Africa, will visit Kenya and meet with officials from the drought-affected countries in the region.

Thursday, February 23

The Security Council has scheduled a public meeting dealing with sexual exploitation allegations in UN peacekeeping operations, as well as a daily briefing by the Secretariat.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour is expected to meet in Moscow with President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other senior officials.

Friday, February 24

The Security Council has scheduled a public meeting dealing with the management of peacekeeping operations and procurement, as well as a daily briefing by the Secretariat.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 100178

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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