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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-05-21
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, May 21, 2007
LEBANON: BAN KI-MOON URGES PARTIES TO PROTECT CIVILIANS
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is gravely concerned about the fighting in the last two days between Fatah el-Islam gunmen and the Lebanese army. The actions of Fatah al-Islam are an attack on Lebanons stability and sovereignty.
The Secretary-General welcomes the united stand taken by Palestinian factions in Lebanon denouncing these attacks on the Lebanese army. He calls on all sides to do their utmost to protect innocent civilians.
The Secretary-General also strongly condemns yesterdays terrorist bombing in Beirut. He urges the Lebanese to unite in the face of threats to their stability and security.
Asked about the whereabouts and security of UN staff posted in the area of Lebanon where the fighting is raging, Montas said that UN staff remained in their assigned area of operation.
Montas declined to speculate as to whether or not the outburst of violence could be linked to ongoing UN efforts to establish a tribunal of an international character to prosecute the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others. She added that Ban Ki-moon has been speaking to a number of leaders in the region to find a solution to the crisis.
BAN KI-MOON HOPES PALESTINIAN CEASEFIRE WILL HOLD
The Secretary-General hopes that the ceasefire reached among Palestinian factions in Gaza holds, and he thanks Egypt for its vital work in brokering this agreement. He calls on the Palestinian Authority to take the necessary steps to restore law and order, and for all factions to abide by the ceasefire.
At the same time, the Secretary-General is deeply concerned that Palestinian militants continue to fire rockets at Israel, targeting civilians. These attacks are completely unacceptable, and violate international law.
The Secretary-General is also deeply concerned by the mounting number of civilian casualties from Israeli military operations, especially the targeted attack on the home of a Hamas legislator in Gaza, which killed six members of one family. While recognizing Israels right to defend itself, he calls on Israel to abide by international law and to ensure that its actions do not target civilians or put them at undue risk.
BAN KI-MOON NAMES NEW A.I.D.S. ENVOY FOR AFRICA,
MEETS WITH U.N. STAFFERS LIVING WITH HIV
This morning, the Secretary-General addressed the General Assemblys session reviewing implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS.
He stressed that AIDS would remain a system-wide priority for the United Nations during his term. He noted that, despite improvements in ensuring universal access, the number of people living with HIV has increased in every region of the world over the past two years.
He called for scaling up prevention programmes and making them more accessible, as well as tackling diseases intimately linked to HIV, especially tuberculosis, and addressing gender inequality, stigma and discrimination.
The Secretary-General also met this morning with members of UN-Plus, a group of UN staffers living with HIV.
Also today, the Secretary-General has appointed a Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa. Sixty-year-old Elizabeth Mataka was born in Botswana and has lived in Zambia for more than 30 years. A social worker with 16 years of experience in the HIV/AIDS field, Ms. Mataka is currently Executive Director of the Zambia National AIDS Network.
The Secretary-General has also reappointed three AIDS envoys through the end of 2008 Dr. Nafis Sadik of Pakistan as Special Envoy for AIDS in Asia and the Pacific; Professor Lars Kallings of Sweden as Special Envoy for AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia; and Sir George Alleyne of Barbados as Special Envoy for AIDS in Latin America and the Caribbean.
MASSIVE DISPLACEMENT WORSENS DIRE HUMANITARIAN
SITUATION IN SOMALIA
The Security Council held a meeting on the humanitarian situation in the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa. The meeting started with a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes on his recent visit to Somalia and Northern Uganda.
On Somalia, Holmes said the recent massive displacement there has further compounded one of the most difficult humanitarian situations in the world, in a country affected not only by long-running internal conflict but also chronic food insecurity, alternating droughts and floods and endemic disease.
Holmes noted that, in his talks with Somalias President and Prime Minister, the discussion was complicated by disagreement on the severity of the crisis. At the same time, however, he also noted that President Yusuf had accepted his proposal of a visit to Somalia by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to look into claims of human rights violations.
Holmes told the Security Council that the United Nations had a responsibility not to turn its back on Somalis in their latest hour of desperate need.
Turning to Northern Uganda, which he called more encouraging, Holmes said the situation in the conflict-affected districts is improving and there is a degree of optimism in the air.
BAN KI-MOON CALLS FOR AGREEMENT ON BURUNDI
TRUTH & RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
This afternoon the Security Council will be discussing the major recent developments in Burundi as described by the Secretary-General in his first report on the UN Integrated Office in that country.
In the report, the Secretary-General says that political tensions in Burundi have somewhat abated and the Government has taken corrective measures to enhance social cohesion, a development supported by two Peacebuilding Commission projects for which the Secretary-General has allocated $35 million dollars.
While there has been an overall improvement in the security situation, the Secretary-General hopes that an agreement will be reached soon between the UN and the Government, among others, on the legal framework for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Special Tribunal to probe atrocities committed during the civil war.
Meanwhile, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour is in Burundi on the second leg of her mission to Central Africa. Today she met Burundi's two vice-presidents, as well as the ministers for human rights, justice and foreign affairs. Among issues discussed were transitional justice, including the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Special Tribunal. She also focused on the present human rights situation and the need to ensure accountability and transparency in dealing with violations.
Arbour is scheduled to meet representatives of civil society organizations tomorrow. She will also meet Burundi's Head of State on Wednesday before traveling to Rwanda, the last leg of her mission.
MYANMAR: HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF URGES RELEASE OF AUNG SAN SUU KYI
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, in a
statement today urged the Government of Myanmar for the unconditional release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners in the country.
The human rights chief also said the release of all political prisoners would demonstrate a willingness of the Myanmars Government to abide by universally accepted human rights standards. It would also facilitate national dialogue and free the Government and the people to focus on the need to unite the country.
Arbour added that the United Nations is ready to assist the Government of Myanmar in any efforts towards democratization by addressing the complex human rights crisis faced by the country.
RWANDA: U.N. TRIBUNAL CONFIRMS GENOCIDE CONVICTIONS
The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has confirmed the convictions of Mikaeli Muhimana for genocide, rape and murder as crimes against humanity.
The Appeals Chamber also confirmed Muhimanas sentence of life in prison for these and other crimes he instigated, committed and abetted between April and June 1994 in Rwandas Kibuye Prefecture.
As of today, the Tribunal has completed 27 trials against 33 individuals while the Appeals Chamber has pronounced itself in 16 cases involving 20 accused individuals and is now going over a number of cases against 6 additional accused. Trials against 27 others are ongoing in the Trial Chambers. Overall the Tribunal has so far arrested 72 suspects.
AFGHANISTAN: U.N. MISSION CALLS FOR HALT
TO ATTACKS ON FOOD CONVOYS
The UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) notes that there have been 16 incidents over the past 11 months in which UN food convoys have been attacked and food and vehicles damaged or stolen. Most of these attacks have been in the south of the country. Of the 16, seven have occurred since the beginning of April.
The UN Mission calls on those responsible to immediately halt these acts, which are robbing the people of Afghanistan of badly needed aid.
BAN KI-MOON CONGRATULATES NEW TIMOR-LESTE PRESIDENT
The Secretary-General in a message yesterday
congratulated Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta on the occasion of his inauguration as President of Timor-Leste.
He also congratulated the Timorese people, who have actively and peacefully embraced the democratic process in elections over the past six weeks.
The Secretary-General also said he looks forward to working with Dr. Ramos-Horta, to lead Timor-Leste in confronting the challenges ahead and urged all political actors in the country to sustain the democratic spirit and respect the free will of the people in the coming legislative elections.
The Secretary-General reiterated that the United Nations remains committed to supporting Timor-Leste as it strives to develop a stable and sustainable democracy.
SOMALIA: FOOD AGENCY CALLS FOR ACTION AGAINST PIRACY
The World Food Programme (WFP) yesterday appealed for high-level international action to stamp out piracy in the waters off Somalia, warning that the flow of relief supplies to the country is under severe threat.
The appeal followed the killing of a Somali guard who helped fight off a new pirate attack on Saturday, on a ship that had just delivered WFP food aid to the Somali port of Merka. As a result of that attack, the agents of another WFP-contracted ship yesterday refused to allow their vessel, which was loaded with food, to sail for Somalia.
Asked if the Secretary-General believed that a humanitarian sea corridor might help address the piracy problem along the Somali coast, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations has no security presence in Somalia and the African Union peacekeeping force now deploying across Somalia was far from fully established to respond to such problems. In response to a question, the Spokeswoman confirmed a press report that Sudanese police agents in January detained a group of UN workers and sexually assaulted a female staff member.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WROTE SUDANESE LEADER
ABOUT JANUARY INCIDENT IN DARFUR
The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reports fighting over the weekend in North, South and West Darfur. The Mission also reports that it has been informed that a group of Lords Resistance Army (LRA) rebels had recently abducted four civilians in south Sudan.
In response to a question, the Spokeswoman confirmed a press report that Sudanese police agents in January detained a group of UN workers and sexually assaulted a female staff member.
Asked to confirm the existence of a confidential letter referred to in that press article in which the Secretary-General complained to the President of Sudan about the above-described and other ill-treatment of UN humanitarian workers in Sudan, the Spokeswoman said that, while the Secretary-General has not spoken directly with President Al-Bashir in recent weeks, he did in fact send such letter of complaint to the Sudanese leader.
"The Secretary-General discusses the protection of humanitarian workers with the Sudanese leader at every occasion," Montas stressed. "This is always one of the subjects of their discussion. Steadily the Secretary-General has been doing that."
On the political front, Montas said that the Secretary-General's Special Envoy of Darfur Jan Eliasson on Friday gave an extensive press briefing, in which Eliasson said that we now have a the beginning of a credible peace negotiation process between the Government and the Darfuri rebels. She added that work continued on the UN heavy support package for the African Union peace mission in Darfur with a view to realizing the full deployment of the Security Council-mandated AU/UN hybrid force.
PROGRESS IN ASIA CRITICAL FOR SUCCESS OF
MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS
In a message to ministers gathered in Almaty, Kazakhstan for the high-level meeting of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the Secretary-General stressed the importance of achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
The Asia-Pacific region is home to two thirds of the worlds population, he noted, and progress there is critical in success of global efforts to reach the Goals.
To that end, ministers at the meeting expressed strong support for a road map to help poor countries lagging in achieving the Goals to get back on track.
BAN KI-MOON AND U.S. SENATOR BIDEN MEET TODAY: Asked for a readout of the discussion between the Secretary-General and U.S. Senator Joseph Biden, who chairs the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, the Spokeswoman said that they discussed Darfur, Kosovo, the Middle East, UN reform and UN-US relations.
SPOKESWOMAN ANSWERS QUESTIONS ON UN STAFF LIST: In response to a question about the publication, List of Staff of the United Nations Secretariat, the Spokeswoman explained that it did not list the names of said staff for privacy reasons. Asked who among the Secretariat staff was authorized to see the list, Montas later explained that the List is published once a year in a limited number of copies which are made available to the Permanent Missions of Member States, Heads of Departments and Offices and senior staff of the Organization who need access to this information due to the nature of their work.
Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
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