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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-03-09

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

Thursday, March 9, 2006

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO VISIT AFRICA

Secretary-General Kofi Annan will be traveling to Africa for a two-week visit.

His first stop is Cape Town, South Africa, where he is scheduled to meet with President Thabo Mbeki and address a joint session of Parliament. While in South Africa, he is also expected to visit Johannesburg.

The Secretary-General then travels to Madagascar for an official visit, where he plans to hold meetings with President Marc Ravalomanana and other officials and receive an honorary doctorate from the National Academy of Arts, Letters and Sciences.

An official visit to the Republic of Congo follows. In Brazzaville, he is expected to meet with President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, who is also the current African Union President.

The final scheduled leg of his trip is the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While in Kinshasa, he plans to meet with President Joseph Kabila and address the Congolese people. While in the DRC, the Secretary-General is expected to travel outside the capital to Kisangani.

He plans to depart this weekend and return two weeks later to New York.

Please note that the trips itinerary is subject to change.

NEW HUMANITARIAN EMERGENCY FUND LAUNCHED TODAY

The Secretary-General this morning

addressed the launch of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

Calling the Fund proactive rather than reactive, he said that it will ensure that, in the critical realm of humanitarian assistance, the UN will do more, and do it sooner.

He also gave his commitment that the Fund will be transparent, with a new website reporting all expenditures and program results to the General Assembly, donors, and the public.

The Secretary-General added that the Fund is not just about money, but actually makes the statement that in a world of plenty, unnecessary and avoidable suffering is inexcusable.

ANNAN SENDS IAEA LETTER ON IRAN TO SECURITY COUNCIL

On Wednesday afternoon, the Secretary-General forwarded to the Security Council a letter from the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei.

In that letter, ElBaradei

transmitted the report on Iran that he gave to the Agencys Board of Governors for the meeting that began on 6 March, which ended yesterday. He noted that the Board of Governors did not adopt a resolution at its March meeting.

Asked whether the Secretary-General had considered postponing his Africa trip, given the Iran issue, and whether he planned personally to deal with the Iran issue, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General, while remaining aware of developments, had not planned any personal initiative. The matter is before the Security Council, he added.

He noted that, as the Secretary-General travels, he remains in constant touch with UN Headquarters.

DARFUR: UNHCR FORCED TO CUT STAFF, BUDGET

Citing deteriorating security that has severely limited its operations and access in Sudans strife-torn Darfur region, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today

announced a 44 percent reduction in its 2006 program budget for the region.

In a revised supplementary appeal for Darfur for 2006, UNHCR notes that the steady erosion of security in recent months in much of Darfur prompted the United Nations in January to impose tighter restrictions on staff and operations in several areas.

A number of UNHCR staff were relocated out of the affected areas and the movements of those remaining are now severely limited.

Asked about the reductions in the UNHCR budget at such a time, the Spokesman reiterated that this was being done because of the high level of insecurity in Darfur.

He said one way the matter could be solved would be through the deployment of a robust, mobile force in Darfur. He also stressed the need for a political agreement among the parties to the conflict.

Asked what the Secretary-General and US President George W. Bush discussed last month about Darfur, the Spokesman said that, during their meeting in Washington, the Secretary-General laid out his vision for a UN presence as a new kind of force in Darfur.

That force, he said, would be mobile, robust and able to prevent attacks when it can.

He added that, once a proposal is ready, the United Nations would go to countries with the needed capability to present specific requests.

U.N. ENVOY ATTENDS WORLD BANK MEETING ON SUDAN

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Sudan, Jan Pronk, is in Paris today to attend a World Bank meeting on Sudan.

Earlier this week, he visited Cairo where he met with the Egyptian Foreign Minister and the Secretary-General of the Arab League.

ANNAN: ERITREA, ETHIOPIA SHOULD COOPERATE WITH COMMISSION

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for

Ethiopia and Eritrea, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, is on his way to London to attend the meetings on Friday and Saturday -- of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission.

The Secretary-General urges the parties in his latest

report on Ethiopia and Eritrea, which is available today, to seize the unique opportunity and extend the necessary cooperation to the Commission so that the expeditious demarcation of the common border can take place.

Asked what the Secretary-General expects to happen at the London meeting, the Spokesman, while noting that the Boundary Commission is not run by the United Nations, said that the United Nations would like to see movement on demarcation.

For that to happen, he added, the restrictions on the movements of the UN Mission would need to be lifted.

Dujarric said, in response to a further question, that the United Nations still has not received any good reason for why the restrictions were imposed.

Asked about Special Representative Legwailas agenda in London, he said that the agenda specifically concerns the Boundary Commission.

PAKISTAN AVOIDS SECOND WAVE OF QUAKE-RELATED DEATHS

Five months after the

earthquake in Pakistan, Jamie McGoldrick, the UNs Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator there, has

said that there has been no second wave of deaths, no massive population movement down the mountains, no severe malnutrition, and no outbreak of epidemics.

The major challenges, he said, are now keeping relief operations going until the end of this month, improving sanitation in the smaller camps, and preparing for the return of internally displaced people.

Plans are currently underway with the Special Envoy for the South Asian Earthquake Disaster, former US President George H. W. Bush, for a high level launch of The Action Plan from Relief to Recovery in New York, which will cover a one year period starting in April 2006.

HEALTH CHIEF CALLS ON AFRICA TO PREPARE FOR BIRD FLU

The World Health Organizations Director-General, Dr. Lee Jong-wook, today wrapped up a visit to Madagascar, Mauritius and Kenya. While addressing different issues in each country, bird flu was the common theme.

Speaking to the press today in Nairobi, he

said that, while there was no evidence of sustained human to human transmission of the bird flu virus, or any other potential influenza pandemic virus at this time, African countries must use the time nature is giving them to prepare.

They must also be able to find, confirm and quickly report the virus in birds; treat people who may be ill with the virus; and collect, examine and share virus samples from those people, in order to determine whether the virus is changing in any way.

TIMOR-LESTE STILL LAGS IN HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Four years after gaining independence, Timor-Leste

remains one of the worlds least-developed nations, says the countrys National Human Development Report 2006, launched in the capital, Dili, on Wednesday by the Government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The UNs newest Member State ranks below all of the countries of the Association of South-East Asian Nations on the human-development index. Half the population lacks safe drinking water, while life expectancy, at only 55.5 years of age in 2004, is not improving.

D.R. CONGO: NEEDS OF DISPLACED PERSONS BEING ASSESSED

On the humanitarian front in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs says that, along with the UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) and other partners, it is assessing the needs of thousands of internally displaced people following a freak storm in Oicha, in the province of North Kivu.

It is an area where thousands of people had already sought refuge following clashes between the Congolese national army and rebel groups.

The storm is reported to have destroyed one third of the houses in Oicha and killed at least three people, with local authorities talking of 62 injured.

CONSULTATIONS PLANNED WITH U.N. STAFF ON REFORM REPORT

Asked about reports that the UN Staff Union might pass a no-confidence motion concerning the lack of consultation with staff prior to the launch of the management reform report, the Spokesman said that the report issued Tuesday was a strategic vision given to the Member States, while consultations with staff were planned as the United Nations moves to implement the report.

He said that the strategic vision had been laid out to the Member States, who are our bosses, and it was intended to benefit UN staff both at Headquarters and in the field.

Now, Dujarric said, there would be a consultation phase, in which UN management would talk with the Staff Union, first through the Joint Advisory Committee and then through the Staff Management Committee.

At the same time, the heads of UN departments would consult with their staff about the proposed reforms.

Asked whether it would have been more beneficial to consult earlier with the Staff Union, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General had acknowledged that there had been no formal consultation earlier with the Union.

However, he added, there had been an effort to obtain input from UN staff, including through e-mails sent to staff last year requesting their views on human resources reform.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

ANNANS POSITIONS ON SHEBAA FARMS WELL-KNOWN AND UNCHANGED: Asked about the Secretary-Generals position on whether the Shebaa Farms region is part of Lebanon or of Syria, the Spokesman said that the positions of the Secretary-General and the Security Council are well-known and unchanged, and are reflected in the Secretary-Generals latest

report on Lebanon.

U.N. CONTINUES RELIEF AID TO BOLIVIAN FLOOD SURVIVORS: Regarding the recent floods in Bolivia, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

reports that the World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners have handed out food and relief items to 1,800 flood-stricken families. Meanwhile the UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) has been supporting educational activities at shelters for survivors. For its part, the UN Development Programme is helping to usher in the transitional phase by focusing on development and recovery activities.

ONE-FIFTH OF WORLDS PEOPLE STILL LACKS ACCESS TO SAFE WATER: A new UN report out today

says the world has plenty of water, but mismanagement, limited resources and environmental changes mean that almost one-fifth of the planet's population still lacks access to safe drinking water and 40 percent does not have basic sanitation. The report, written with contributions from twenty-four UN agencies, was presented in Mexico City today in advance of an international water forum which starts next week.

U.N. COMMISSION WELCOMES TALKS BETWEEN IRAQ, KUWAIT ON ENVIRONMENTAL REHABILITATION: The Governing Council of the UN Compensation Commission (UNCC) today concluded its 59th session in Geneva. The Governing Council, during that session, discussed the results of two recent regional meetings on environmental rehabilitation. It welcomes the continuation of bilateral discussion between Iraq and Kuwait on war-related environmental rehabilitation projects.

U.N. CONDEMNS MURDER OF RUSSIAN JOURNALIST: The Director-General of the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, Koïchiro Matsuura, has condemned the murder of Ilya Zimin, a reporter for NTV television, in Moscow on February 26. The Director-General said, I am very concerned about reports of violence against journalists in Russia but place full confidence in the authorities' determination to investigate these crimes and bring their perpetrators to trial.

  • ** The guests at the noon briefing were the UNs Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, and Prime Minister Keith Mitchell of Grenada. They spoke about the Central Emergency Response Fund.

    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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