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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-05-29
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
BAN KI-MOON CONDEMNS WEEKEND ATTACKS IN DARFUR
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemns the killing on 25 May of a UN officer from Egypt, who was deployed in El Fasher in support of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS).
He also deplores the armed hijacking of a UN convoy in El Fasher on 28 May, in which three vehicles were stolen and the passengers robbed. It is unacceptable that those working to bring stability and life-saving humanitarian assistance to
Darfur continue to be targeted.
All parties must urgently adhere to the ceasefire and support the activities of the United Nations and the African Union in this beleaguered region of Sudan.
The Secretary-General urges the Government of Sudan to facilitate the immediate deployment of the Heavy Support Package to AMIS, and agree to the UN-AU Hybrid Operation without delay.
The Secretary-General urges all stakeholders to support the efforts of Special Envoys Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim. Lasting peace in Darfur can only be achieved through an inclusive and comprehensive peace process reinforced by a strong peacekeeping presence.
Asked to elaborate on the Secretary-General's stated preference for the "soft power" of diplomacy and whether it stood in line with the Security Council's ongoing consideration of tighter sanctions on Sudan over Darfur, the Spokeswoman said that Ban Ki-moon had asked in some instances for more time and for more political space in order to be more effective in his contacts with different heads of states.
In response to a further question, Montas said Ban Ki-moon's approach has been to engage regional leaders and other actors in the political field in seeking solutions to crises. "To him," Montas emphasized, "a political solution is of the utmost importance in conflict resolution."
SECURITY COUNCIL WELCOMES REPORT
ON HYBRID OPERATION IN DARFUR
The Security Council has welcomed the transmission of the report of the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on the AU-UN hybrid operation in Darfur.
In a presidential statement read out on Friday afternoon, the Council noted that the agreement is an important development in the comprehensive approach to the peace process in Darfur, which also includes re-energizing the political process, strengthening the ceasefire and implementing the three-phase approach to peacekeeping, culminating in an African Union-United Nations hybrid operation.
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF U.N. PEACEKEEPERS
MARKED AT HEADQUARTERS AND AROUND THE WORLD
Today is the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, and from Timor-Leste and Lebanon to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Haiti, UN Missions are celebrating this annual landmark.
Various UN missions are honoring the selfless contributions of Blue Helmets past and present.
At Headquarters, the Secretary-General laid a wreath in the Visitors Lobby to commemorate the sacrifice of the 100 peacekeepers killed on the job in 2006, and the fallen colleagues of previous years, and also to celebrate the dedication of those serving in UN missions around the world.
After observing a minute of silence, the Secretary-General delivered prepared remarks in which he said that while UN peacekeeping is a model of burden-sharing among countries, one should never forget that the brunt of this burden is borne by individuals.
Recalling Fridays brutal killing of an Egyptian peacekeeper in Sudan and the bombing of the UN Baghdad Headquarters, the Secretary-General said that the UN family is that much more determined to honour their selfless dedication and courage, by continuing to work for peace and security in the worlds most troubled regions.
With UN deployment at a record high, the Secretary-General vowed to do everything possible to safeguard the security and safety of UN personnel in the field, from advocating robust mandates to ensuring they have the equipment they need to carry them out.
The Secretary-General also spoke to reporters.
NEW SPECIAL ADVISER FOR PREVENTION OF GENOCIDE IS NAMED
The Secretary-General has appointed Francis Deng of Sudan as his new Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities, succeeding Juan Mendez of Argentina.
Deng is currently Director of the Sudan Peace Support Project based at the United States Institute of Peace. He served as the Secretary-Generals Representative on Internally Displaced Persons from 1992 to 2004.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TAKE PART
IN MIDDLE EAST QUARTET MEETING
The Secretary-General is leaving for Berlin tonight.
He is looking forward to meeting with the other Middle East Quartet Principals in Berlin tomorrow.
The Quartet meeting comes at a timely juncture to review recent developments in Gaza and in Israel. The Secretary-General hopes that this meeting will also be an opportunity to discuss the way ahead for the definition of a political horizon in the Middle East peace process.
SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES
DRAFT RESOLUTION ON TRIBUNAL FOR LEBANON
Security Council members held consultations this morning on the situation in the Middle East during which they discussed a draft resolution on the establishment of a tribunal of an international character for Lebanon.
This afternoon, Council members will reconvene in closed-door consultations to hear a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hedi Annabi on Eritrea and Ethiopia. After that they are expected to take up other matters.
BORDER ASSESSMENT TEAM BEGINS ITS WORK IN LEBANON
The Lebanon Independent Border Assessment Team began its work yesterday in
Lebanon. The team is tasked with fully evaluating security arrangements along Lebanon's border with Syria and to do so in close coordination with relevant Lebanese authorities and other bilateral partners already providing border security assistance to Lebanon.
Led by Lasse Christensen of Denmark, the assessment team includes experts from Algeria, Germany, Jamaica and Switzerland. It is expected to make specific recommendations on measures and assistance strategies to improve Lebanons management of its border capacities.
Meanwhile, the UN Refugee and Works Agency (UNRWA) says that it has set up a Lebanon Emergency website on its main English-language portal to update the public on the situation in the Nahr El Bared camp for Palestinian refugees where a standoff continues between the Lebanese Army and Islamist militants.
Meanwhile UNICEF has joined with UNRWA and local NGO partners in advocating the safety of the children and their families among the estimated 10,000 who remain in beleaguered camp. UNICEF is providing medical supplies, including rehydration salts, essential drugs and hygiene kits and drinking water; the agency is also ready to provide counseling to children emotionally affected by the situation.
WORKERS' CONDITIONS WORSEN DRAMATICALLY
IN OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES
The situation of workers in the occupied Arab territories has
worsened dramatically over the past year, according to the International Labour Organizations (ILO) annual report.
The ILO found that seven in ten households are living below the poverty line. It says the situation has become especially dire in the past year because of the non-payment of wages for public employees and mounting obstacles to the movement of goods and people.
UNITED NATIONS TRAINS IRAQI ELECTORAL COMMISSIONERS
The United Nations, building upon its previous support for the holding of democratic elections in Iraq, today began a week of intensive training for the nine new members of the Independent High Electoral Commission of Iraq (IHEC).
Electoral assistance continues to be one of the very important ways that the United Nations is contributing in Iraq, helping Iraqis to build a more peaceful and democratic future, according to B. Lynn Pascoe, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.
The training, carried out in New Dehli, India, by staff of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) and DPAs Electoral Assistance Division (EAD) will extend from 29 May through 8 June. The invitation to hold the seminar in India was kindly extended by the Government and Election Commission of India, whose members will also share their experiences with the Iraqi commissioners.
The training should help the new commissioners to become more knowledgeable in all aspects of the management of electoral processes with transparency and political independence. It should also provide them with an opportunity to build their working relationship as a commission.
AFGHANISTAN: INNOCENT CIVILIANS NEED TO BE PROTECTED IN FIGHTING
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has
called for all parties fighting in Afghanistan to increase efforts to ensure the protection of innocent civilians.
In particular, the mission says, all parties shall avoid, by all necessary means, combat in populated areas, which result in higher civilian casualties.
UNAMA called on the extremist Taliban and other terrorist groups to stop attacks affecting civilians, including suicide bombings, improvised-explosive devices and executions in which hundreds of civilians have been killed in recent months and thousands of others affected.
UNAMA also highlights the need for better coordination between and among Afghan and international military forces to minimize the impact of their operations on civilians, particularly in highly populated areas.
UGANDA: WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME DRIVER KILLED IN AMBUSH
The World Food Programme (WFP) says that gunmen ambushed a WFP convoy in the Karamoja region of northeastern Uganda, killing a WFP driver and forcing the agency to suspend temporarily its operations in support of half a million drought affected people in the region.
Richard Achuka, 41, was shot in the neck and shoulder and died yesterday when the gunmen attacked a convoy of four WFP trucks as they returned from delivering food to schools and other sites.
The attackers fled as the escorting soldiers and three other trucks arrived at the ambush site.
WFP condemns this vicious attack on a clearly marked WFP humanitarian convoy in the strongest terms and demands that the killers be pursued and brought to justice, according to a press release issued by the agency in Kampala.
REFUGEE AGENCY EXPRESSES CONCERN
OVER VIOLENCE AT REFUGEE CAMPS IN NEPAL
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) expressed grave concern over the death of one refugee minor and several injured refugees and policemen, during a clash in a refugee camp in the Jhapa district of eastern Nepal on Sunday.
The situation continues to be tense in the camp, which has also influenced the security situation in other refugee compounds in the region.
UNHCRs representative in Nepal said the agency is grateful to the government of Nepal for working towards restoring law and order in the face of the highly charged security situation in the camps.
UNHCR is appealing to the refugees to abide by the laws of the country.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION CALLS FOR SMOKE-FREE
INDOOR PUBLIC SPACES AND WORKPLACES
The World Health Organization (WHO) is urgently
calling on countries to make all indoor public places and workplaces 100 per cent smoke-free. The message is part of WHOs new policy recommendations timed for World No Tobacco Day, which is Thursday.
WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan stresses that there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. The only guarantee of protection is creating 100 percent smoke-free environments.
WHO estimates that 200,000 workers die each year due to exposure to smoke at work. And almost half of the worlds children breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke, particularly at home.
U.N. TIMOR-LESTE MISSION WELCOMES SIGNING OF POLITICAL ACCORD: The head of the UN Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) has welcomed the signing of a political accord by the countrys 16 political parties. They are promising that next months elections will be free and fair, and that they will continue to respect the democratic process after the elections.
UP TO MEMBER STATES TO ADDRESS CYBER ATTACKS: Asked for a Secretary-General reaction to a reported massive cyber-attack that crippled much of Estonia's computer and Internet networks, the Spokeswoman said this type of incidents should be of serious concern to anyone living in these electronic-dominated age. Such attacks, which happen more frequently than not, could affect industrial complexes and other key entities or infrastructures, she noted. "It is up to the Member States to bring this situation to the attention of the General Assembly or the Security Council," Montas added.
Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
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