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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-03-21
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
HEAD OF U.N. TEAM INVESTIGATING HARIRI ASSASSINATION
BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL
The Security Council, in a formal meeting today, on the situation in the Middle East, heard a progress report by Serge Brammertz, the head of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission, on the inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others.
Brammertz said that the Commission has made significant progress in several areas by further developing crime scene leads and expanding evidence on the perpetrators. He said that allegations of crime scene tampering remain under scrutiny, and efforts to identify the geographic origin of the suspected bomber are also advancing well.
Brammertz said that the Commission continued to assist the Lebanese Government in the inquiry into 16 other cases, including the recent killing of Minister Pierre Gemayel and the February bombing of two buses near Beirut. He said that cooperation with Syria was generally satisfactory.
After that meeting, the Council members moved into closed consultations on the situation in the Middle East, including the Brammertz report, and other matters.
SECURITY COUNCIL TO DISCUSS IRAN THIS AFTERNOON
This afternoon at 3, Security Council members will hold a closed meeting on non proliferation, which we understand will focus on Iran, and other matters.
U.N. FORCE IN LEBANON REACHES COORDINATION AGREEMENT
WITH LEBANESE, ISRAELI FORCES
The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) says that its Force Commander, Major-General Claudio Graziano, and senior officials from the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) today reached agreement on coordination arrangements with the LAF and the IDF, respectively.
UNIFIL says that the agreement, which resulted from a meeting held earlier today at the UN Position at the border crossing at Ras Al Naqoura, will improve its ability to enhance security in its area of operations and to respond to potential incidents.
The parties also discussed the implementation of Security Council
resolution 1701 and took up issues related to the Blue Line. They reviewed the situation in the northern part of the village of Ghajar, with the aim of expediting the withdrawal of Israeli troops from that area.
Also on Lebanon, out today as a document is the Secretary-Generals latest report on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701. In it, the Secretary-General notes that the process continues to face heavy criticism in Israel.
He recommends confidence-building measures to strengthen the Lebanese-Syrian border regime and says that he is encouraged by the Lebanese Governments commitment to full cooperation with the UN team of border police experts and bilateral assistance programmes.
This is the third substantive quarterly report on 1701. Some positive elements in that report: the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Lebanon has been largely respected and, for the first time in 40 years, the Lebanese army 15,000 soldiers has been deployed in the area. The report underlines, however, a number of violations of the arms embargo and the Israeli overflights.
TOP U.N. OFFICIALS TO ADDRESS DARFUR CRISIS DURING TRIPS TO AFRICA
Two senior UN officials are about to begin missions in connection with the Darfur crisis.
Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes has landed in Khartoum, where he is expected to meet with senior officials of the Sudanese Government and the United Nations, representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society and donor Governments.
During his two-week mission, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs plans to travel to the Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic.
The Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for Darfur, Jan Eliasson, meanwhile, is scheduled to arrive in Asmara, Eritrea, to discuss how to best coordinate Eritrean mediation efforts with those of the African Union and United Nations to reenergize the Darfur political process.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: TOWN IS ABANDONED AFTER FIGHTING
A UN team has gained access to the main town in northeastern Central African Republic for the first time since fighting between Government forces and militants resumed earlier this month and reports that it saw a place emptied of its population.
UN Humanitarian Coordinator Toby Lanzer, who led the mission to Birao, expressed his shock at the scene: Never before has the UN seen a town in Central African Republic where 70 per cent of houses have been torched. The impact of this on people's lives cannot be exaggerated.
Prior to the recent fighting, some 14,000 people lived in Birao, located on the Central African Republics border with Sudans Darfur region.
ERITREAN GOVERNMENT EXPELS U.N. MINE ACTION OFFICIAL
We just received a press release from our mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE) saying that it has received a communication from the Eritrean authorities informing the Mission of the Governments decision to request David Bax, Programme Manager of UNMEE-Mine Action Coordination Centre (MACC), to leave the country for good before 20 March 2007.
In their communication, the Eritrean authorities made reference to repeated violations of Eritrean laws and regulations by UNMEE-MACC management. UNMEE does not agree with this decision or the rationale given but has complied with the expulsion order, and Mr. Bax has already left Eritrea.
In addition to the helicopter ban in place since October 2005, the expulsion in December 2005 of over 180 UNMEE staff on the basis of their nationality, and the restrictions on the freedom of movement of UNMEE patrols, this latest action of the Eritrean authorities will further affect the Missions capacity to perform its functions as mandated by the Security Council.
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL DISCUSSES REPORTS ON USE OF MERCENARIES,
ECONOMIC REFORM POLICIES AND FOREIGN DEBT, RIGHT TO EDUCATION
The Human Rights Council is currently discussing thematic reports from human rights mandate holders on the use of mercenaries; the effects of economic reform policies and foreign debt; the right to education; and enforced or involuntary disappearances.
Earlier in the day, the Human Rights Council concluded its interactive discussion on Internally Displaced Persons, violence against women and the sale of children.
BAN KI-MOON ENDORSES CALL TO END TUBERCULOSIS
This morning the Secretary-General signed the Call to Stop Tuberculosis, as part of a series of events at Headquarters to mark World TB Day (which is Saturday).
Tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m. at UN headquarters, the World Health Organization (WHO) will launch its 2007 Global TB Control Report. Upstairs, we have an embargoed press release on the report, as well as a release from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on efforts to combat the deadly disease.
Also, tomorrow night, the Deputy Secretary-General will open a photography exhibit on A World Free of TB in the Visitors Lobby.
RACIAL DISCRIMINATION HINDERS DEVELOPMENT
Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
In a statement to mark the occasion, the Secretary-General said that despite significant strides in recent decades, much remained to be done.
He also highlighted the theme of this years observance that racism and discrimination hurt not only their immediate victims, but also entire societies, by hindering development.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a statement issued in Geneva,
said that A society that tolerates discrimination holds itself back, forgoing the contribution of whole parts of its population, and potentially sowing the seeds of violent conflict.
U.N. AGENCIES IN THAILAND DECRY UNACCEPTABLE VIOLENCE
The United Nations in Thailand called for an end to violence against children in southern Thailand, following a string of attacks on students in and around schools.
Adding that such attacks against innocent children are completely unacceptable, U.N. agencies working in that country say education is the key to present and future development in southern Thailand, and all schools should and must be treated as zones of peace.
In recent weeks, three students were killed and seven others injured when assailants attacked a boarding school, five primary school students were injured when gunmen fired on their bus, and two teenage girls were killed while on their way to final exams.
It is estimated that the conflict in southern Thailand has taken over 2,000 lives in the past three years, including 60 teachers. Over 100 schools have been burned down.
TIMOR-LESTE: NUMBER OF DISPLACED PERSONS ON THE RISE
In Timor-Leste, the latest informal studies show that since January, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Dili has increased by 8,000.
The total number of IDPs now in the capital is estimated at some 37,000.
The UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) says the sharp increase of internally displaced people has caused some immediate concern of food shortages, rice in particular, and anticipation of supply, both of which continue to aggravate the IDP situation.
Meanwhile, UNMIT says the reported outbreak of locusts in Bobonaro and Ermera Districts has affected more than 4,500 hectares of cropland. The locust infestation will most likely impact an already precarious food security situation.
UNMIT also reports that the past week in Dili has seen the fewest violent incidents in two months time.
Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
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