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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-03-23

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 MARIE OKABE

DEPUTY

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

U.N.

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, March 23, 2007

BAN KI-MOON WISHES IRAQI DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER SPEEDY RECOVERY AFTER ATTACK

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Mr. Salam Z. Al-Zubai, yesterday in Baghdad. He was shocked and dismayed to hear that the Deputy Prime Minister had been injured in an assassination attempt earlier today. The Secretary-General sent a personal message to Mr. Al-Zubai, offering his condolences for those who were killed and injured in that attack and wishing him a full and speedy recovery from his injuries.

The Secretary-General greatly valued the opportunity to meet with Mr. Al-Zubai yesterday to hear his views on the current situation in Iraq. He reiterates his admiration for the Deputy Prime Ministers readiness to serve Iraq at a great personal risk.

IRAQ: SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS UN ACTIVITY CONSTRAINED BY SECURITY ENVIRONMENT

In a meeting with a group of reporters traveling with him today, the Secretary-General made it clear that his position on any possible increase of the UN role in Iraq has not changed because of the incident yesterday in which a mortar exploded nearby while he was giving a press conference.

He said that he will consider upon his return to New York how the UN could do more for the Iraqi people and for political and development work in the country. At the same time, he noted that UN activity has been largely constrained by the security environment, and that the situation in Iraq is still very volatile.

The Secretary-General added that he was very moved during his meeting with UN staff in Baghdad, saying that from his meeting with them, he was very much assured and grateful to them that even in such an exceptional situation, they were working with a sense of dedication and duty.

IRAQIS TOP LIST OF ASYLUM SEEKERS FROM INDUSTRIALISED COUNTRIES, UN REFUGEE AGENCY SAYS

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) today announced that Iraq had regained the top spot among asylum seekers in the world's industrialized countries in 2006, but the overall trend in applications by all nationalities fell for the fifth straight year.

Asylum applications by Iraqis in industrialized countries rose 77 percent last year -- from 12,500 in 2005 to 22,200 in 2006, according to provisional statistics compiled by the UN refugee agency based on information provided by Governments.

BAN KI-MOON MEETS EGYPTIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN CAIRO

The Secretary-General is in Cairo today, where he arrived earlier in the day from Baghdad.

After meeting with the UN Country Team, he was to meet with the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit. He will also attend a dinner hosted by the Foreign Minister.

The Secretary-General continues his visit in Egypt on Saturday.

DRC: BAN KI-MOON EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER FIGHTING IN KINSHASA

The Secretary-General continues to follow with concern the developments unfolding in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The civilian population continues to be threatened by fighting in the heart of the city. He urgently appeals once again for a complete halt to all fighting. He deplores the unnecessary loss of life and condemns the looting and destruction that have taken place.

The DRC has reached a critical turning point. The recent violence in Kinshasa underscores the urgent need for a new political culture in the country. The Secretary-General urges all parties to turn away from violence and to actively pursue political dialogue at all levels. He urges the Government of the DRC to provide the necessary space for effective participation of all political parties in debate and in decision making and urges the Congolese authorities to observe due process and respect for fundamental human rights.

DRC: U.N. MISSION REPORTS REDUCTION IN VIOLENCE

Following Thursdays hostilities between the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and the guards of former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba in Kinshasa, the UN Mission (MONUC) there reports today that sporadic fighting continues but order has generally been restored.

While MONUC welcomes the restoration of order by Government forces, it deeply regrets the fact that force was used to resolve a situation that could and should have been settled through dialogue. MONUC deplores the loss of life, damage to property, looting and the serious risks caused to civilians living in the capital.

In response, MONUC moved two military companies into Kinshasa from elsewhere in the country. UN peacekeepers also evacuated from the danger zone more than 600 people, including UN staff as well as Congolese and non-Congolese civilians. They also provided first aid to victims of the violence, as well as water and rations to school children holed up at their schools and people sheltered at MONUC headquarters.

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative, William Swing, is in contact with the different sides, as well as with international officials, and issued repeated appeals over the UN Radio station calling for an end to the violence.

MONUC also expects to be granted secure access, on an urgent basis, to civilians in need of food, shelter and medical care, and will continue the efforts it initiated early yesterday to secure or evacuate those in need of protection.

Meanwhile, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro called Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete in his capacity as chair of the Organ of Peace and Security of SADC, the South African Development Community, to discuss the situation in the DRC.

Asked about Jean Pierre Bembas whereabouts, the Spokeswoman said that MONUC had not reported about that.

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS AFGHANISTAN MISSION, CONTINUES CONSULTATIONS ON IRAN

The Security Council this morning unanimously adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) by one year, until March 23, 2008.

It then heard a briefing about the sanctions adopted under resolution 1737, concerning Iran, by the chairman of that sanctions committee, Ambassador Johan Verbeke of Belgium. This is a periodic briefing, as called for in that resolution.

After that, Council members resumed consultations on the draft resolution on non-proliferation, concerning Iran, which they had also discussed Thursday afternoon. Those consultations were scheduled to resume later on Friday afternoon.

SECURITY COUNCIL ADOPTS PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT ON UGANDA

Following a briefing Thursday afternoon on the situation in the Great Lakes by the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for Lords Resistance Army-affected Areas, former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano, the Security Council adopted a Presidential Statement in which it stressed its support for a negotiated settlement in the conflict in Northern Uganda.

The Council reiterated that those responsible for serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the region must be brought to justice, and urged that the peace process be concluded expeditiously. Council members also urged the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) to immediately release all women, children and other non combatants.

This followed a briefing by Special Envoy Chissano, during which he reported on his recent two trips to the region and his meetings with regional actors, including LRA leader Joseph Kony. Chissano later spoke to correspondents at the stakeout microphone, saying that the Juba peace negotiation would resume in mid-April, noting that the prospects were good of reaching a settlement between the parties.

U.N. EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR VISITS SOUTHERN SUDAN

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes today traveled to Juba, in Southern Sudan.

While in Juba, Mr. Holmes met with First Vice President of Sudan and President of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS), Mr. Salva Kiir, and the Vice President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Dr. Riek Machar.

While the largest humanitarian crisis in the world unfolds in the North, securing funds for Southern Sudan in the shadow of Darfur remains a significant challenge.

John Holmes, in Juba today, said the UN, donors and NGOs all need to do much more to support the Government and people in Southern Sudan. Recovery and development activities need to be accelerated, and the benefits of peace to become more apparent.

SUDAN: TOP U.N. ENVOY FOR DARFUR ARRIVES IN KHARTOUM

Jan Eliasson, the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for Darfur, has arrived in Khartoum from Asmara after having constructive meetings with Eritrean officials, including the President on the coordination of Eritrean mediation efforts in Darfur with those of the United Nations and the African Union.

Jan Eliasson is about to meet with African Union (AU) Special Envoy for Darfur Salim Ahmed Salim. The two will be in Sudan on a five-day mission to try to re-energize the stalled peace process in Darfur.

SOMALIA: U.N. HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR CONDEMNS RECENT VIOLENCE

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Eric Laroche, has condemned the recent violence in Mogadishu, calling on all combatants, uniformed or not, to desist from further acts of aggression and to respect civilian life

Laroche said the desecration of bodies of fallen fighters is a barbaric act and a gross violation of international law. He warned that much-needed humanitarian assistance can only take place if there is unimpeded access for relief workers.

Meanwhile, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that the humanitarian situation in Mogadishu continues to deteriorate.

Movements continued to be towards Afgoye and Lafoole (where large new IDP populations from Mogadishu are already located) and to central regions of Somalia. At the end of last week, OCHA says more than 40,000 people had fled Mogadishu during the month of February, due to rising insecurity and violence.

U.N. KOSOVO MISSION EXPRESSES REGRET OVER DEPARTURE OF ROMANIAN POLICE UNIT

The UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) today

expressed its regret that, following a one-month initial extension of their tour of duty, 75 officers of the Romanian formed police unit have left the mission area as of 21 March.

UNMIK regretted that the Romanian authorities did not agree with the request of UN Headquarters that 11 of these officers remain in Kosovo until 6 April to continue cooperation with the investigation into the 10 February incidents, in which two protesters were killed and several injured by rubber bullets fired by UN police.

UNMIK reaffirms its commitment to ensure that a full and impartial investigation is concluded in a timely manner.

Asked about the duties of troop contributing countries during investigations, the Spokeswoman said that it is up to the national authorities of those countries to follow up and investigate the acts of their troops.

Asked about the presentation of Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaaris report to the Security Council on the final status of Kosovo, the Spokeswoman said that the report would go to Council members on 26 March. She noted that the current President of the Security Council had said that the discussion of the report would likely not take place until April; so far, she added, no date had been set for discussions.

EXPERTS BRIEF HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ON COUNTRY SITUATIONS

Earlier today, the Human Rights Council heard presentations from independent experts on the human rights situations in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea; Burundi; Myanmar and Liberia.

Human Rights Council members then held a general debate on a number of country situations.

TIMOR-LESTE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN UNDERWAY, U.N. MISSION REPORTS

The UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) reports that the official campaign period began yesterday for the eight declared contenders in the April presidential election, following the completion of voter registration all across the country.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday in the capital Dili, the Special Representative to the Secretary General for Timor-Leste Atul Khare said he was pleased that the registration went smoothly and without major security incidents.

The two-week campaigning period will see rallies, meetings, campaign posters and media publicity across Timor-Lestes 13 districts. All campaigning will be supervised by the National Electoral Commission (CNE) and monitored by both national and international election observers. The campaign period ends on April 6th, ensuring a two-day information black-out ahead of the election.

U.N. AGENCIES WARN ABOUT MENINGITIS OUTBREAK IN WEST AFRICA

A meningitis epidemic has erupted in Burkina Faso and is also affecting eight other countries in West Africa. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says more than eight thousand cases, including nearly 800 deaths, have been recorded in the region since the beginning of the year. The vast majority of those took place in Burkina Faso.

That countrys Government, with support from the World Health Organization (WHO), has launched an appeal for $3 million in international assistance.

Meanwhile, OCHA is warning that the traditional migration of people across open borders that takes place in May and June could lead to the rapid spread of the disease. It is calling on Governments in the region to reevaluate the effectiveness of their education, prevention and response initiatives.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION ADDS FOUR TUBERCULOSIS DRUGS TO LIST

The World Health Organization today

added four anti-tuberculosis medicines to its list of prequalified products. For the first time, the list now includes a second-line medicine, which is aimed at treating strains that are resistant to current treatments.

The four medicines are the first TB products to be added to the list in two years. WHO says they will help efforts to scale up access to medicines in high-burden areas and countries which may have only limited capacity to control and monitor pharmaceuticals.

BAN KI-MOON OFFERS MESSAGE ON DETAINED AND MISSING STAFF MEMBERS

Sunday will be the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members. The Secretary-General is marking the occasion today in a message recalling that 14 staff members are currently under arrest, detained or missing. He also recalls that 22 years ago, our colleague Alec Collett was abducted by armed men in Beirut while working for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and was never to be seen or heard from again.

The Secretary-General also notes that legal protection is essential for international and national staff alike, adding that 81 countries have become party to the UN Convention on the Safety of UN and Associated Personnel, with another 43 having signed it. He urges Member States to embrace this Convention and other similar instruments.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

24-30 March 2007

[This document is for planning purposes only and is subject to change.]

Saturday, March 24

Today is World No TB Day.

Sunday, March 25

Today is the International Day for the Commemoration of the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

Monday, March 26

Several events are planned at Headquarters today to mark the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. The General Assembly will hold a special commemorative meeting of the Plenary from 10 a.m. to noon.

At 12:45 pm in Room 226, the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, H.E. Mr. Denzil Douglas; Professor Rex Nettleford, Vice-Chancellor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies; the Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the UN, H.E. Mr. Philip Sealy; and the Permanent Representative of Dominica to the UN, H.E. Mr. Crispin Gregoire, will brief journalists on the International Day of Commemoration of the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

At 3 p.m. in the Trusteeship Council, CARICOM, in collaboration with the Department of Public Information, will organize a panel discussion on the subject, The Transatlantic Slave Trade: the Tragedy, the Legacy.

Also on Monday, the first Global Forum of the United Nations Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technology is taking place in Conference Room 4. Some 200 participants from industry, Government, academia and civil society are expected to attend the all-day meeting on how such technology can improve the lives of people with disabilities.

At 11:15 am there will be a press conference in Room 226 on inclusive and assistive technologies for persons with disabilities. Speaking will be K. Anne-River Forcke, from IBMs Human Ability and Accessibility Center; Judy Brewer, Director of the Web Accessibility Initiative at the World Wide Web Consortium; and H.E. Hendrietta Ipeleng Bogopane-Zulu, Chairperson of the South African Parliament at the National Assembly.

In London, at 5 p.m. local time in the House of Lords, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, along with other UN agencies, Governments and NGOs, will launch the Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking.

Tuesday, March 27

At 1:15 pm in Room 226, the United Nations University will hold a press conference on Sustainable Land Management for Global Benefits. Experts on land management will brief.

Wednesday, March 28

The Secretary-General attends the opening session of the Arab League Summit in Riyadh. The General Assembly President will also address the summit.

This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold an open debate on the relationship between the United Nations and regional organizations, in particular the African Union, in the maintenance of international peace and security.

Thursday, March 29

This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold consultations on Guinea-Bissau.

The guest at the noon briefing will be Mr. Thomas Schindlmayr, United Nations Disability Expert, who will brief on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Friday, March 30

This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution on the UN Mission in Liberia.

The Opening for Signature Ceremony of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will take place in the General Assembly Hall at 10:00 a.m, with statements by the President of the General Assembly, the Deputy Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

At 12:45 pm there will be a press conference in Room 226 on the opening of the Convention for signature (speakers still to be confirmed).

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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