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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-01-04

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

ARCHIVES

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MICHELE MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, January 4, 2007

BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES AFRICA'S READINESS

TO DEPLOY PEACEKEEPERS IN SOMALIA

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been closely following recent developments in Somalia. He believes a new opportunity may exist for the Transitional Federal Government to establish its full authority in the country. He urges the transitional authorities to reach out to other groups in the country, with the aim of fostering dialogue and engaging in an all-inclusive political process that can lead to stability, peace and reconciliation, as envisaged in the Transitional Federal Charter.

The Secretary-General welcomes the stated intention of Ethiopia to withdraw its forces expeditiously, and calls on all states in the region to respect Somalias sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity.

The Secretary-General also welcomes the announcements by some African countries of their readiness to deploy peacekeepers to the protection and training mission decided upon by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union, and hopes that this mission can be put in place as quickly as possible.

The Secretary-General calls on all Somali parties and the international community to seize the current moment and do their utmost to end the heavy loss of life, displacement and suffering that have plagued the country. The United Nations will continue to do its part to support these efforts and to help Somalis build a country based on human rights and respect for the rule of law.

Asked whether there is a role for the United Nations in forming a force for Somalia, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations does not have a role in that task; rather, she said, the Security Council had authorized IGAD to deploy a force. Any change on a UN role would depend on the Security Council.

Asked whether the Secretary-General had anything to say about the Ethiopian incursion into Somalia, the Spokeswoman noted that the Security Council has not pronounced itself on that issue, because of differing views in the Council.

UNITED NATIONS AND AFRICAN UNION

DISCUSS PROPOSED SOMALIA DEPLOYMENT

Available today is a letter by the Secretary-General to the Security Council President, from the end of last month, that details the discussions the United Nations had had on the implementation of the mandate of the IGAD force for Somalia.

It says that Uganda and Sudan had initially indicated their willingness to provide two battalions for that force, but that problems had since arisen with arrangements for those countries deployment, while no other country has been identified to join the force.

BAN KI-MOON CONSULTS WITH DARFUR ADVISORS AND TASK FORCE

The Secretary-General is today chairing the first meeting of the Darfur Task Force. Earlier today, the Secretary-General met with his Special Representative for West Africa, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, who recently completed a key visit to Khartoum.

And yesterday, the Secretary-General met with Jan Eliasson and thanked him for accepting the assignment as Special Envoy for the Darfur crisis.

He told the Eliasson that he had been in touch with a number of actors including African Union Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare and AU Envoy Salim Ahmed Salim.

The Secretary-General suggested a meeting, bringing together Salim Ahmed Salim, Eliasson and himself. That meeting is now scheduled for noon tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) says that two African Union personnel who were kidnapped during a carjacking in early December are still missing. The Mission also notes that the number of carjacking has soared in the course of 2006, with some 118 vehicles forcibly seized in Darfur, including 5 UN-marked, 17 African Union and 84 international NGO vehicles.

FOUR BANGLADESHI PEACEKEEPERS REPATRIATED IN CONNECTION

WITH ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL EXPLOITATION IN SUDAN

In a response to a question I was asked yesterday in connection with the allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel in Juba, Sudan, I can confirm that as a result of previous investigations, the UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS) has already repatriated four peacekeepers from Bangladesh and their case will be pursued in front of a national jurisdiction.

As of today, there are 13 ongoing investigations regarding allegations of serious misconduct, including sexual exploitation and abuse.

Asked why the information about the UNs actions regarding the soldiers was only coming out now, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations was following a process in which it had investigated cases and repatriated some soldiers. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) will follow up with the Bangladeshi authorities to find out what action has been taken since then.

She confirmed, in response to questions, that the four individuals who were repatriated were the same ones mentioned on Wednesday. They were repatriated a few months ago.

In addition, Montas said in response to further questions, there are 13 cases still being investigated by a UN team that has been working on these matters in Sudan since February 2006. The team is studying misconduct allegations, not all of which involve sexual exploitation.

Asked about the measures the United Nations takes when such individuals are being investigated, the Spokeswoman said that when individuals are accused, they are halted from performing their regular duties.

Montas said that DPKO takes seriously the need for a cultural change in dealing with this matter, noting that the United Nations deploys thousands of peacekeepers to complex societies. There is a definite effort by DPKO, she said, to change the culture, listen to alleged victims and conduct thorough investigation. She stressed that in all cases, there would be zero impunity and zero tolerance for misconduct.

Asked whether the cases being investigated were the same as those reported in the Daily Telegraph, the Spokeswoman said that would need to be determined. The cases that the United Nations is studying date back to 2005. She noted that the Telegraph article had mentioned one nightclub that has for months been a no go area for UN personnel.

NEW HEALTH BODY CHIEF ASSUMES OFFICE

Dr. Margaret Chan of China today

took office as Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). She said she wanted her leadership to be judged by WHOs impact on the health of two population groups: women and the people of Africa.

Dr Chan has set out six priority areas on which she intends to focus WHOs work: development for health; health security; building the capacity of health systems; developing better information and knowledge; enhancing partnerships; and improving WHOs performance.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

BAN KI-MOON IS LIKELY TO APPOINT DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL NEXT WEEK: Asked whether the position of Deputy Secretary-General would be announced on Friday, the Spokeswoman said it was more likely to be announced next week.

NEW MANAGEMENT CHIEF TO SPEAK TO THE PRESS: The new Under-Secretary-General for Management, Alicia Bárcena, has expressed willingness to speak to the press in the coming days. Ms. Bárcena has begun her duties as Under-Secretary-General for Management, and she intends to meet with staff as she starts her work.

U.N. KOSOVO POLICY IS UNCHANGED: Asked about a letter from the Serbian President to the Secretary-General concerning Serbias territorial integrity, the Spokeswoman confirmed that the letter has been received, and noted that the Secretary-Generals policy on Kosovo has not changed.

NEW VENTILATION SYSTEM FOR POPULAR U.N CAFÉ: Asked about changes to the Viennese Café, the Spokeswoman said that those changes were designed to provide ventilation.

BAN KI-MOON TO GIVE PRESS CONFERENCE SOON: Asked whether Ban Ki-moon will be accessible to the press, the Spokeswoman said that he intends to provide a press conference in the coming days.

BAN KI-MOON PICKS BEEF AND BROCCOLI FOR LUNCH AT U.N CAFETERIA: Asked what the Secretary-General had eaten when he visited the staff cafeteria on Tuesday, the Spokeswoman said he had eaten beef with broccoli. In response to another question, she noted that he continued to visit different offices at UN Headquarters.

UNITED NATIONS CONCERNED ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING: Asked about the Secretary-Generals position on global warming, the Spokeswoman said that the UN position on global warming is expressed by the UN Environment Programme and added that the Secretary-General would also implement any steps requested of him by the General Assembly.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055


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