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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-01-18
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Thursday, January 18, 2007
BAN KI-MOON TO HEAD TO EUROPE & AFRICA NEXT WEEK
The Secretary-General will be participating next week in the International Conference on Support for reconstruction and development of Lebanon, a conference that will be hosted in Paris by President Jacques Chirac.
It is expected that the Government of Lebanon will present at the conference a new economic reform programme, which would include post-conflict reconstruction as well as economic recovery and reforms, to address Lebanons debt sustainability problem and restore the foundations for sustained growth.
The Secretary-Generals first stop, before the Paris Conference, will be Brussels, where he will meet officials of the European Commission and the head of the European Parliament, as well as the King and the Prime Minister of Belgium.
From Europe, he plans to travel to Africa. His first stop will be the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where the UN's largest peacekeeping operation is based. The Secretary-General said he will meet with peacekeepers and express his personal gratitude for the contributions they are making under difficult and often dangerous conditions, in a country that is key to so much of the future stability of the region.
He will then attend the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, where he has said that Darfur and Somalia will be at the top of his agenda.
His last stop in Africa will be Nairobi, where he will meet with staff at the UN's headquarters on the continent.
Asked whether the Secretary-General would attend a meeting of the Middle East Quartet, the Spokeswoman confirmed that the US State Department had announced that a Quartet meeting would take place in Washington, D.C., on 2 February. The Secretary-General would attend that meeting, she added.
Montas also announced that the Secretary-General, while in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, expects to have a dialogue with President Joseph Kabila on continuing the democratization process and realizing social stability as soon as possible.
Asked whether the subject of the use of rape as a weapon of war would come at that meeting, the Spokeswoman said she expected it would, and she stressed the need for zero tolerance regarding sexual abuses by troops.
KOSOVO, IRAN, CLIMATE CHANGE CAME UP IN MEETING WITH BUSH
Asked about topics discussed between the Secretary-General and George W. Bush during their meeting on Tuesday, the Spokeswoman confirmed that, among other topics, the two discussed, in general terms, such subjects as Kosovo, Iran and climate change. The Secretary-General, she added, had brought up Kosovo.
On climate change, she noted that the idea of a summit had not been discussed. She said, in response to a further question, that the Secretary-Generals office had been discussing that idea, but no decision has yet been reached. Montas noted that the Secretary-General would meet with UN Environment Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner when he visits Nairobi.
She added that the Secretary-General had also discussed those topics, as well as UN-US relations, in his talks with many different members of both houses of the US Congress.
SOMALIA: TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT HAS RARE OPPORTUNITY TO EXERT AUTHORITY, ENHANCE CREDIBILITY
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, was in Mogadishu earlier today for wide-ranging consultations on challenges to peace, security and reconciliation in Somalia. Fall met with President Abdullahi Yusuf and later with representatives of civil society. He said the situation now presents a rare opportunity for the Transitional Federal Government to exert its authority and enhance its credibility with the Somali people.
He urged the Government to establish an effective administration at the district and regional levels and to avoid reinstating the warlords. Fall also noted that Ethiopia was willing to withdraw its troops and that the regional bloc IGAD had signaled the readiness of several African countries to deploy peacekeeping troops to Somalia.
Meanwhile, UN agencies are continuing to distribute food and supplies to internally displaced Somalis at the Kenya-Somalia border.
Asked about comments attributed to Fall that the United Nations would come to Somalia, the Spokeswoman said that no decision had been taken on that, and suggested that he may be referring to UN logistical support.
She said that one of the Secretary-Generals objectives during his visit to the African Union meeting in Addis Ababa would be to garner support among nations for Somalia.
SUDAN: TRIBAL FIGHTING HITS DARFUR
The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) has reported recent tribal fighting in South Darfur that resulted in casualties as well as civilian displacements in West Darfur.
The Mission reports that a joint team consisting of UN, NGOs and the Sudanese Humanitarian Affairs Commission representatives carried out an assessment mission this week to a site of recent fighting over the past several weeks in South Darfur.
The team reported that the violence led to more than 150 deaths and the burning of 12 villages, displacing an undisclosed number of people fleeing to nearby villages and towns.
Meanwhile, the Mission reports more than 700 families fleeing violence and harassment in West Darfur.
Asked whether the Secretary-General was disappointed that only Bangladesh, so far, had pledged a contribution for Phase 2 of the Darfur support package, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations was hoping that the situation would change.
U.N. AIRLIFTS EMERGENCY FOOD INTO CHAD
The World Food Programme (WFP) yesterday carried out its first emergency airlift from its new logistics hub in Accra, Ghana, sending urgently needed relief supplies to Chads capital, NDjamena.
Those supplies consisting of 26 tons of high-energy biscuits and three mobile storage tents will be taken overland to Abeche, in eastern Chad, where WFP is providing support to over 220,000 refugees from Darfur and some 57,000 displaced Chadians.
U.N. MISSIONS IN LEBANON, GOLAN HEIGHTS TO GET NEW FORCE COMMANDERS
The Secretary-General has informed the Security Council, in a letter, of his intention to appoint Major General Claudio Graziano of Italy as the Force Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Graziano would replace Major General Alain Pellegrini of France, whose term expires on 17 February.
The Secretary-General also informed the Council that he intends to appoint Major General Wolfgang Jilke of Austria as the Force Commander of the UN Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights (UNDOF). Jilke would replace Major General Bala Nanda Sharma of India, whose term expires this month.
The Security Council is considering its replies to those two letters.
Asked about the length of the appointments, the Spokeswoman later noted that they commonly are three-year terms. Asked about the current troop strength of UNIFIL, she said it has more than 11,500 troops.
CONSULTATIONS ON U.N. RESTRUCTURING STILL ONGOING
Asked whether the Secretary-General intended to split the Department for Peacekeeping Operations into two departments, the Spokeswoman said that the only thing she could confirm is that consultations are taking place with Member States concerning changes to the current structure of UN departments.
Those discussions are ongoing, and involve the Secretary-General and his senior aides, and have included talks in recent days with the Group of 77 coalition and individual Member States.
The Spokeswoman added, in response to a question, that announcements of new senior appointments should not be expected until the work on restructuring had been completed.
Asked whether the Peace-building Support Office would be ended, the Spokeswoman said that the office was not expected to go away.
NEW BOOK ON N.G.O.S TO BE LAUNCHED TOMORROW: The first comprehensive examination of the issues and politics surrounding the topic of non-governmental organization (NGO) accountability will be taken on by a new UN book, to be launched Friday morning. The book, entitled Debating NGO Accountability, and published by the UN Non-governmental Liaison Service (NGLS), examines initiatives that could improve the accountability of all institutions to the people whose lives they shape.
INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT CHIEF HEADS TO BAHRAIN: The Director-General of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Kandeh Yumkella, will visit Bahrain from 20 to 22 January. During his time there, Yumkella will meet local and regional business and political leaders to exchange views on the joint development of cooperation programmes by UNIDO and Bahrain.
SIERRA LEONE COURT GETS NEW JUDGE: Justice Julia Sebutinde of Uganda has been elected Presiding Judge of Trial Chamber II of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. She succeeds Justice Richard Lussick, who ended his one-year term as Presiding Judge on 17 January 2007.
REFORM & CONTINUITY BOTH IMPORTANT: Asked about new faces in the Secretary-Generals Executive Office, the Spokeswoman noted that many people previously in that Office continue to be working there, and noted that, while the Secretary-General has stressed reform, he has also spoken of the need to have continuity.
Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
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