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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-01-08

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 NOON BRIEFING

BY MICHELE MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, January 8, 2007

BAN KI-MOON TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL: DARFUR IS A TOP PRIORITY

Ban Ki-moon this morning

spoke to the Security Council for the first time in his role as Secretary-General, and offered the Council his initial views about his priorities over the coming months.

One of the top priorities, the Secretary-General said, would be in Darfur, where he warned that the humanitarian situation is getting worse. He added that he also intends to stay the course in other parts of Africa and will hold discussions with leaders at the

African Union summit in Addis Ababa this month.

The Secretary-General also pledged to inject new momentum in the search for peace in the Middle East and to work toward resolving the status of Kosovo. And he emphasized that we must do more to invigorate disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.

The Security Council intends to adopt a Presidential Statement at the end of todays meeting.

Asked why the Secretary-General hadnt mentioned Security Council reform, the Spokeswoman said that the omission was not deliberate and that the Secretary-General was interested in that issue. She noted that a proposal on reforming the Security Council is currently in the hands of the Member States.

BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS IN MYANMAR

The Secretary-General has taken note of the decision by the Government of Myanmar on 3 January 2007 to grant amnesty to 2,831 prisoners. He welcomes reports that this includes the release of up to 40 political prisoners.

The Secretary-General urges the Myanmar authorities to go beyond this first step by releasing all other political prisoners in the country, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and by making further concrete progress on all of the issues raised in the context of his good offices.

BAN KI-MOON IS CONCERNED AT RISING TENSIONS IN GUINEA-BISSAU

The Secretary-General is very concerned at the heightened tensions in Guinea-Bissau following the killing of the countrys former Navy Chief, Commodore Lamine Sanha, on 4 January 2007. He is particularly distressed by the loss of life that occurred following the intervention of the security forces during protests against the killing.

The Secretary-General urges the government and political leaders to exercise utmost restraint, and to focus on development and reconciliation.

He urges the people of Guinea-Bissau not to take the law into their own hands. And he strongly encourages all national stakeholders to find negotiated solutions to their differences, and to avoid allowing impunity to prevail.

BAN KI-MOON URGES IRAQ TO STAY PLANNED EXECUTIONS

The Secretary-General strongly urged the Government of Iraq to grant a stay of execution to those whose death sentences may be carried out in the near future, according to a statement we issued on Saturday.

Chef de Cabinet Vijay Nambiar, in a letter to the Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations, over the weekend reiterated the Secretary General's endorsement of the call made last week by High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour for restraint in executing the death sentences imposed against two of Saddam Husseins co-defendants, Awad Hamad Al-Bandar and Barzan Ibrahim Al-Hassan.

The letter also stressed the need to pay due regard to all aspects of international humanitarian and human rights laws.

Meanwhile, in other Iraq-related news, the UN refugee agency today launched a $60 million appeal to fund its work over the next 12 months for hundreds of thousands of displaced Iraqis.

DARFUR ENVOY BEGINS KEY MISSION TO AFRICAN UNION AND SUDAN

Jan Eliasson, the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for Darfur, has begun his mission to the region following consultations at UN Headquarters last week.

He is today in Addis Ababa, where he is holding two days of meetings with the Chairperson of the African Union and other senior AU officials and senior members of the Ethiopian Government.

He plans to travel to Sudan for meetings with the Government of National Unity and all other relevant parties to discuss steps required to arrive at a durable solution to the situation in Darfur on the basis of the Darfur Peace Agreement.

POTENTIAL DARFUR TROOP CONTRIBUTORS MEET AT U.N. HEADQUARTERS

At UN Headquarters this morning, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations met with potential troop and police contributors on Phase II of UN support of the AU force in Darfur.

That includes some 1,800 military personnel in specialized, self-sustaining units in the areas of Transport, Engineering, Signal, Logistics, and Medical, as well as 300 police plus 3 Formed Police Units, and equipment (vehicles, aircraft, communications, information).

And as agreed with the Government of Sudan and the African Union, priority will be given to African troop and police contributors.

CLOSE TO HALF A MILLION DISPLACED BY DARFUR CRISIS IN 2006

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affair reports that in 2006, more than 450,000 people have been newly displaced, often for the first time.

However, UN access to the affected populations has plummeted to 64%, the lowest since April 2004.

Insecurity and lack of access continue to impede humanitarian operations. Despite a 4 p.m. curfew in Geneina town to mitigate the risk of vehicle hijacking, a UN vehicle was hijacked at 3:30 pm on 3 January.

Non-governmental organizations have not yet been able to resume operations in Gereida in South Darfur. A recent assessment found that security cannot be guaranteed in the town that is host to 130,000 people displaced by the fighting.

NEW DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO ASSUME FUNCTIONS SOON

Asked about comments attributed to incoming Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro on Iran, the Spokeswoman noted that, when Migiro was Tanzanias Foreign Minister, Tanzania last month voted in favour of the UN Security Council resolution concerning Irans nuclear programme. She added that the UN Secretariat was trying to contact Migiro to determine what she had said.

Asked when the Secretary-General had informed Migiro that she would be appointed Deputy Secretary-General, the Spokeswoman said that had taken place last Friday. She noted that it had been difficult to reach her, since she was at a conference in Lesotho.

Asked when Migiro would be at UN Headquarters, Montas said that she would probably be in New York in a matter of days but would then leave again to wrap up her other duties.

Asked why the Secretary-General hadnt discussed with her the nature of the job she had to do, the Spokeswoman said that he had spoken to other people about her, who had assured him that she could do the job and do it well.

MONITORING NETWORK SET UP FOR INTERNALLY DISPLACED

IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Available today is the latest report of the Secretary-General on the Central African Republic, in which he says that the security and human rights situation deteriorated markedly in October 2006 due to a rebel offensive in the north-west, the continued banditry of so-called road blockers and related reprisals by the security forces.

The Secretary-General also notes that joint efforts by United Nations and other humanitarian agencies have facilitated the delivery of emergency assistance, an improvement partly due to an information-gathering network created by the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees which monitors the situation of some 50,000 internally displaced people. The UN civilian police and peacebuilding office, meanwhile, are working to strengthen the capacity of the national police and speed up the restructuring of the security forces.

NUMBER OF LEBANON PEACEKEEPERS ON THE RISE

The strength of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has risen to more than 11,500 peacekeepers, with the recent deployment of an infantry company from Malaysia and the rotation and reinforcement of troops serving with the Indian contingent. The current total includes more than 9,600 ground troops and more than 1,700 naval personnel.

Also, since the cease-fire came into force on 14 August, UNIFIL de-miners have destroyed a total of nearly 19,000 explosive devices.

UNITED NATIONS DEPLORES DEADLY ATTACK ON POLICE IN GEORGIA

The UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) has deplored last Fridays attack on a Georgian checkpoint, which resulted in the killing of one Georgian policeman and the wounding of another.

The Mission stresses that the perpetrators must be brought to justice, calls on both sides to cooperate to prevent any escalation of violence, and reiterates its call for dialogue.

The Mission has also increased the number and frequency of its patrols in the conflict zone.

U.N OFFICIAL ATTENDS AFRICAN UNION MEETING ON SOMALIA

The UN Special Representative for Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, attended the Peace and Security Commission meeting of the African Union in Addis Ababa today.

The Commission met to discuss implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1725, which authorizes the creation of a protection force and training mission in Somalia to help protect the country's transitional federal institutions. The new force is to be set up by the African Union (AU) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Ambassador Fall called for further involvement of the AU in sensitizing the Transitional Federal Government to the need to engage in an all-inclusive dialogue. He also urged the African Union Peace and Security Commission to implement resolution 1725 as soon as possible, and for member states to contribute troops.

SUSPECT DETAINED IN KILLING OF PEACEKEEPERS IN HAITI

The UN Mission in Haiti has confirmed the arrest of a suspect in the November killing of 2 UN peacekeepers in the capital Port-au-Prince. The arrest took place Friday and was conducted by a joint squad of UN peacekeepers and Haitian national police during a pre-dawn operation in Cite Soleil area. The suspect, an alleged gang member known as Zachari, was arrested along with a suspected kidnapper.

To date, 14 peacekeepers have died since the start of the UN Mission in Haiti.

UNITED NATIONS CONDEMNS KILLING OF CIVILIANS IN SRI LANKA

The United Nations condemns the deliberate targeting of civilians in Sri Lanka, and deplores the latest incidents involving two civilian buses which resulted in the deaths of over 20 innocent civilians with dozens maimed and injured.

The United Nations calls for the protection of all civilians throughout the island.

The office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Sri Lanka describes the situation in Vaharai in the east as grave and demands an urgent response. We stand ready to assist those still trapped in Vaharai, says Amin Awad, the Acting Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator.

DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME CHIEF ON CENTRAL AMERICAN TOUR

The UN Development Programme Administrator Kemal Dervi&#351; embarks today on a 10-day visit to Central America, during which he will look at the Development Programmes project activities and meet with representatives of national and local governments.

He will also meet with civil society, academia, private sector leaders and the media in a region with deep and diverse experienceand significant obstacles to overcome--- in human development.

Dervi&#351; will visit Cuba, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. He is expected back in New York on 19 January.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

U.N. POSITION ON FIJIAN PEACEKEEPERS IS UNCHANGED: Asked about any change from previous UN statements concerning the use of Fijian peacekeepers following a coup in that country, the Spokeswoman said that the previous statements continue to stand.

PEACEKEEPING DEPARTMENT RESPONDS TO SUDANESE CONCERNS ABOUT SEXUAL EXPLOITATION AND ABUSE: Asked about a response from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to the Sudanese Government concerning sexual exploitation allegations, the Spokeswoman confirmed that the response has been sent.

BAN KI-MOON RECEIVES LETTER FROM ISRAELI CABINET MINISTER LIEBERMAN: Asked about a letter to the Secretary-General by Israeli Cabinet minister Avigdor Lieberman, the Spokeswoman confirmed that the letter had been received, adding that no reply has been sent.

BAN KI-MOONS FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE FORM TO BE RELEASED SOON: Asked when the Secretary-Generals financial disclosure would be published, the Spokeswoman said that would happen once it had been reviewed by the UN Ethics Office and by the outside consultant, Price Waterhouse Coopers.

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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