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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-01-16

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 FARHAN HAQ

ASSOCIATE

SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

BAN KI-MOON MEETS WITH U.S. PRESIDENT AND ELECTED OFFICIALS

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is in Washington, D.C., today, where he met with President George W. Bush at the White House.

While in Washington, the Secretary-General will also meet with members of the U.S. Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, including key members of both the Senate and House of Representatives' committees dealing with foreign relations.

This afternoon, the Secretary-General will also give a speech laying out his priorities at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Among other things, he will talk about the need to confront the tragedy of Darfur, to make serious efforts for progress in the Middle East, to invigorate disarmament and non-proliferation efforts and to resolve the uncertainty over Kosovos status.

The Secretary-General will be back at UN Headquarters tomorrow afternoon.

MORE THAN 34,000 CIVILIANS KILLED IN IRAQ IN 2006

The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) issued its ninth bimonthly report on the human rights situation in the country today, which says that more than 6,000 civilians were killed during November and December. The Missions Human Rights Office calculates that the total civilian casualty figure for last year was more than 34,000, with more than 36,000 civilians injured.

According to the bimonthly report, the situation is particularly grave in Baghdad, where most of the casualties also bear signs of torture.

Sectarian violence, especially in Baghdad, is singled out as a major cause for an ever-growing trend in displacement and migration of all Iraqis, as well as the targeting of various professional groups.

Asked why the UNs latest casualty figures on Iraq were higher than those put forth by the Iraqi Government, the Spokesman said the United Nations used figures provided by two Iraqi sources, namely Iraqs Ministry of Health and the Medico-Legal Institute of Baghdad.

Asked if the United Nations was doing anything to help the Iranians captured by the Americans in Iraq, the Spokesman said the UNs help had not been requested on that matter.

BAN KI-MOON APPEALS FOR EARLY MIDDLE EAST QUARTET MEETING

Asked about U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rices recent peace initiatives in the

Middle East, the Spokesman said the United Nations had been kept abreast of her efforts. Haq noted that Rice had informed the Secretary-General of her Middle East tour prior to her departure.

Asked if the United Nations was involved in these recent efforts, the Spokesman said the United Nations was keeping track of what was going on, and appreciated all efforts to bring the Israelis and Palestinians together. He also reiterated the Secretary-Generals desire for a Quartet meeting to happen as early as possible, possibly in February.

Asked if there was a reason that Rices tour was taking place before the Quartet meeting, the Spokesman said the Quartet needed to meet regardless, in order to assess the latest developments and move the Road Map forward.

Asked about the venue for the Quartet meeting, the Spokesman said one would have to wait and see what would be convenient for all Quartet members.

SECURITY COUNCIL REQUESTS EARLY PEACE SUPPORT DEPLOYMENT

IN CHAD AND CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

The Security Council held consultations this morning on the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) and other matters.

Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hedi Annabi is briefing Council members on the

Secretary-Generals last report on Ethiopia and Eritrea, which came out last month.

SPECIAL ENVOY ON KEY MISSION IN SUDAN FOR NORTHERN UGANDA

Joaquim Chissano, Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for the Lord Resistance Army Affected Areas, arrived yesterday in Juba, the capital of southern Sudan, for consultations on how to move forward the peace negotiations and reach a political settlement to end the LRA insurgency in northern Uganda and southern Sudan.

The Special Envoy met yesterday with Sudanese First Vice-President and southern Sudanese President Salva Kiir and the Facilitator of the peace negotiations, southern Sudanese Vice-President Riek Machar.

Chissano will also meet with meet with the LRA negotiators before heading to Khartoum for a consultation with Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir and senior officials.

The World Food Programme today started food distributions to 500,000 people in northeastern Ugandas Karamoja region, where families are reeling from the effects of the third drought in six years.

Asked if Chissano was slated to meet with Joseph Kony and Vincent Otti, the leaders of the LRA, the Spokesman reiterated that Chissano would meet the designated LRA negotiators, not the LRA leadership. Haq later added that Chissano had neither the mandate nor the intention to meet Kony, Otti or any other International Criminal Court indictee.

UNITED NATIONS STEPS UP DELIVERY OF DARFUR SUPPORT PACKAGE

TO AFRICAN UNION

The United Nations and the African Union are stepping up preparations to move the UN support to the AU force in Darfur (AMIS) to its second phase, now that the delivery of the UN Light Support Package is ongoing, according to the UN Mission in Sudan.

The United Nations and the African Union will hold this weekend a final round of consultations on the second phase of UN support to AMIS, referred to as the Heavy Support Package, which will include additional personnel and equipment.

Once finalized, the details of the Heavy Support Package will be brought to attention of the Government of Sudan.

The UN support to AMIS, including the Heavy Support Package, met the support and endorsement of the Government of Sudan during the Addis Ababa Consultations and the Abuja Summit of the AU Peace and Security Council both held in November 2006.

JOINT HUMANITARIAN TEAM ASSESSES CIVILIAN NEEDS IN SOMALIA

The first UN inter-agency mission to Mogadishu, since the Transitional Federal Government assumed control over southern Somalia, took place today.

In northern Somalia, meanwhile, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is conducting a one-month needs assessment for internally displaced persons. During that mission, UNHCR also intends to deliver shelter materials and basic supplies to the displaced.

On the Somalia-Kenya border, OCHA is concerned that the closed frontier is leading to a deteriorating health situation, with cases of dysentery, diarrhoea, and malaria going untreated. But in southern Somalia, the World Health Organization has been able to bolster major hospitals with medicines, medical supplies and fuel.

TRIBUNAL UPHOLDS LIFE SENTENCE FOR FORMER RWANDAN OFFICIAL

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) today upheld the life sentence for Emmanuel Ndindabahizi, a former finance minister of Rwanda, for his criminal responsibility in the 1994 genocide, which the Court said is the crime of crimes.

Taken into ICTR custody in September 2001 after his arrest in Belgium, the former finance minister was convicted in 2004 of two counts of crimes against humanity and one count of genocide. It still has to be determined in which country he will serve his life sentence.

BAN KI-MOON TAKES NOTE OF INDICTMENT OF FORMER U.N. OFFICIAL

Asked to comment on todays fraud charges against the former head of the oil-for-food programme, Benon Sevan, the Spokesman said the United Nations had just been informed about the media reports concerning the indictment, and had yet to formally receive information about that indictment.

However, he added, the Secretary-General has noted that the United Nations has been cooperating with the authorities about follow-up to the Volcker reports, and will continue to do so. The Secretary-General also reiterated the commitment to have the United Nations uphold the highest ethical standards, the Spokesman added.

Asked about normal procedures for indicted UN officials, the Spokesman said the United Nations typically provided cooperation through the provision of information to the relevant authorities and, if needed, by waiving the immunity of UN staffers so that they could give testimony or be tried.

Asked if the UN had a relationship with Interpol, the Spokesman said that the two bodies did indeed have a relationship and cooperated with each other on a range of matters. Haq later added that the UN and Interpol signed a cooperation agreement in 1997.

Asked if there had been cases in the past where the Secretary-General had recommended that UN staffers be extradited, the Spokesman said he was not aware of any. However, extradition was typically a bilateral affair between countries, he added.

Asked what Benons rank had been and about his pension, the Spokesman said Sevan would receive whatever pension he was entitled to, and that he had been an Under-Secretary-General. Asked why the United Nations could not interfere with the pension of discredited staff members, he Spokesman said the UN pension fund was not controlled by the UN, but rather a separate body.

Asked about the UNs relation with Benon Sevan now, the Spokesman said that Sevan was no longer working for the UN. His immunity had been waived last year. In response to a further question, Haq said that the United Nations had decided not to reimburse Sevan for his legal fees following the adverse findings against him by the Volcker Committee.

BAN KI-MOON URGES STRONG ACTION ON CHILD RECRUITMENT

IN NEPAL AND SRI LANKA

Out on the racks today are two reports by the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict one focusing on Sri Lanka and one on Nepal.

In the Sri Lanka report, the Secretary-General notes that, despite previous commitments by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the group continues to recruit children. He also notes allegations that certain elements of the Sri Lankan Security Forces are involved in aiding the recruitment and/or abduction of children by the LTTEs breakaway Karuna faction. The Secretary-General calls on the Sri Lankan Government to immediately investigate those allegations.

The Nepal report, meanwhile, contains recommendations on taking stronger action for to protect war-affected children in Nepal, including the need for dedicated child protection expertise in any future UN mission to that country.

REFUGEE AGENCY HELPS BUILD HOMES FOR AFGHAN RETURNEES

Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says that, since the repatriation to Afghanistan started in 2002, more than 1 million Afghan returnees from Pakistan and Iran have built homes with UNHCR assistance.

Shelter is one of the most pressing needs of returning Afghans, and UNHCR says that its shelter programme is designed to help the most vulnerable returned refugees and internally displaced people across Afghanistan. In the last five years, it has worked with the Afghan government and partner agencies to distribute over 160,000 shelter units to help the most vulnerable returnees.

CLIMATE CHANGE AMONG BAN KI-MOONS TOP PRIORITIES

Asked for the Secretary-Generals position on climate change, the Spokesman said it was clear that the need to act was urgent and that the basic scientific evidence for climate change was well established. The Secretary-General had already said that climate change would be one of the priorities on his agenda.

Pressed for a readout of yesterdays meeting between the Secretary-General and Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Climate Change, the Spokesman later added that the two had discussed and had an exchange of views about climate change. The Secretary-General stressed his belief that climate change is an important issue that has serious consequences for humanity, including social and economic impacts.

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL TO ELECT NEW PRESIDENT

Tomorrow afternoon, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will hold the first part of its annual organizational session and elect its President and Bureau for 2007. The event will take place at 3 p.m. in the ECOSOC Chamber in the presence of the Secretary-General, who will also address the Council.

ECOSOC members are also expected to adopt the Councils provisional agenda for their February session and discuss other organizational matters.

Asked who the new President of ECOSOC would be, the Spokesman later added that it would be Ambassador Dalius Cekuolis of Lithuania.

BAN KI-MOON URGES CONTINUED IMPROVEMENT OF U.N. SECURITY

The seventh summit on the safety and security of UN and associated staff is taking place today, and Chef de Cabinet Vijay Nambiar delivered a message on the Secretary-Generals behalf, saying that effective security is a core aspect of UN operations which we must always strive to improve.

He said that effort would require robust cooperation, and thanked the staff union for its keen interest.

NINE MEMBER STATES SETTLE THEIR DUES AHEAD OF BUDGET DEADLINE

The UN Budget Office informs that as of this week a total of nine Member States have paid in full their contributions to the current budget.

They include Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Finland, Norway, South Africa, Suriname and Zambia.

And a reminder that Member States have until 31 January to settle their dues in full.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

U.N. STAND ON FORCED MASS EVICTIONS IS UNCHANGED: Asked for a UN reaction to reports about forced evictions in Zimbabwe, the Spokesman said these reports would have to be verified. Last time such evictions had taken place, the UNs Anna Tibaijuka had written an extensive report, criticizing the evictions policy.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO SPEAK TO THE PRESS AFTER ASSUMING OFFICE: Asked for the position of the Deputy Secretary-General designate on current Tanzanian legislation, the Spokesman noted that that the Deputy Secretary-General designate had not yet taken up her duties officially. After she did so, in the near future, she would speak to the press.

BAN KI-MOON URGES STATES TO COMPLY WITH SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTIONS: Asked for the Secretary-Generals position on reports that some countries were not cooperating with Security Council-mandated sanctions on the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Spokesman said the Secretary-General expected all Member States to comply with all resolutions of the Security Council. As for the implementation of these particular sanctions, that matter was in the hands of the Security Council and its sanctions committee dealing with the DPRK.

  • The guest at the noon briefing today was Toby Lanzer, UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Central African Republic. He will brief on the humanitarian situation in the northern part of the country.

    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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