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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-10-15
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MICHELE MONTAS
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
Monday, October 15, 2007
VISITS THAILAND, VOICES CONCERN AT REPORTED HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN MYANMAR
The Secretary-Generals Special Advisor, Ibrahim Gambari,
met today with the Prime Minister of Thailand, General Surayud Chulanont, in
Bangkok, where Gambari is at the start of a regional tour. He delivered a
special written message of the Secretary-General to the Prime Minister, and
discussed with him the situation in Myanmar.
Earlier, Gambari met the Foreign Minister and
spoke to the press afterward.
He said that he intended to raise with Myanmar's
neighbours and regional partners the UN's serious concerns at the continuing
reports of human rights violations in the wake of the recent demonstrations.
He asserted that the reports
of arrests of the remaining student leaders, interrogations and acts of
intimidation are extremely disturbing and run counter to the spirit of mutual
engagement between the United Nations and Myanmar. These actions must stop at
once. He called on the Myanmar authorities to release all political
Gambari added that other objectives of his trip were to
consult with and seek the active support of regional partners on the next
steps in the implementation of the Secretary-General's good offices, with a
view to returning to Myanmar as soon as possible, and to discuss and
coordinate with regional partners any efforts or initiatives complementary to
those of the UN.
Asked whether the authorities in Myanmar were acting in
good faith, Gambari welcomed the fact that they have
appointed a liaison officer to start dialogue, and he also welcomed the
reduced visibility of the military on the streets. But he warned, Certainly
all these will be damaged by all the continued reports of actions that are
detrimental to national reconciliation and to overall long-lasting peace and
prosperity in Myanmar.
Gambari travels to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Tuesday. He
will also visit Indonesia, India, China and Japan.
Asked when Gambari returns to
New York, and whether he would visit Myanmar before returning to New York, the
Spokeswoman said that his schedule would depend on the results of his
discussions with different governments.
Asked whether a trip to Myanmar
by mid-November was early enough, Montas said that the Secretary-General had
hoped that the visit could be earlier. Gambari, she noted, has an invitation
from the Myanmar Government to visit in mid-November, but he is trying to
arrange a visit that would be earlier than that.
SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES ALL SUDANESE PARTIES TO ADHERE TO THE COMPREHENSIVE
over the weekend, the Secretary-General expressed his concern about the
decision by the
Sudan People's Liberation Movement to suspend its participation in the
Government of National Unity.
The Secretary-General called on both parties to the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) to resolve the situation in a manner that
preserves the integrity of the Agreement.
The Secretary-General urges the parties, in particular
the National Congress Party, to urgently take the necessary steps to address
the outstanding issues related to the implementation of the CPA.
The United Nations stands ready to assist the parties to
accelerate progress on these matters, restore the necessary trust between them
and keep implementation of the CPA on track.
The acting Special Representative for the
Secretary-General, Tayť-Brook Zerihoun, meanwhile, has traveled to Juba where
he held two meetings, one with the Secretary-General of the SPLM, Pagan Amum,
and another with the President and Vice President of the Government of
Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir and Riek Machar.
The UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS)
says that Zerihoun was encouraged by his interlocutors' assurances that they
will remain engaged in discussions and consultations with their National
Congress Party partners.
U.N. AND A.U.
PROVIDE AIRLIFT SUPPORT FOR DARFUR REBELS
The United Nations and the African Union have provided
the airlift support for the
Darfur rebel movements who have gathered in Juba in southern Sudan at a
conference hosted by the SPLM in preparation for the Darfur talks in Sirte,
Staff from the AU-UN Joint Mediation Support Team are
attending this conference and are holding meetings on the sidelines with the
movements to discuss their preparedness for the Sirte talks.
LOGISTICS CONTRACT SIGNED TODAY
The United Nations has awarded Pacific Architect
Engineers, Inc. (PAE) a contract for the initial Multi Function Logistics
Services in Darfur for a period of six months in support of the UN-African
Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). The contract was signed today in New York.
The contract, which is for a not-to-exceed amount of $250
million, covers the establishment of new camps in El Fasher, Nyala, El Geneina,
Zalingei in Darfur and El Obeid for up to a total of 4,100 military and
civilian personnel and the provision of camp services including catering,
medical, janitorial, welfare, and upkeep.
The nature and complexity of the requirements, along with
the challenging timeline mandated by the Security Council, necessitated a
contractor with considerable experience in the Darfur environment. The search
for a suitable short-term solution has led to this contractor, which has been
in Darfur since 2004, constructing and maintaining all logistical services to
the existing 34 African Union camps.
Asked about how the contract to
PAE was awarded, the Spokeswoman said that it was a sole source contract, in
accordance with financial regulation 105.16, which provides for an exception
to the formal methods of solicitation when the United Nations is faced with an
exigent requirement. The nature and the complexity of the requirement, coupled
with the challenging timeline mandated by the Security Council, made it so
that the PAE was the only contractor which could be selected.
However, the negotiations on
the contract were completed by the Procurement Service, and the Contract was
subsequently reviewed by the Headquarters Committee on Contracts, the Spokeswoman later added. Montas noted the firms past experience in building camps in the same environment.
VIOLENCE LEVEL IN AFGHANISTAN INCREASED BY 30 PER CENT
Tom Koenigs, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Afghanistan, told the Security Council that the level of violent incidents in that country is up by roughly 30 percent from the comparable level last year. The sad result, he said, is that at least 1,200 Afghans have been killed since this January.
Koenigs said that it is imperative that the protection of civilians remain at the forefront of efforts in Afghanistan, and he noted with pleasure the concrete steps taken by the International Security and Assistance Force and Operation Enduring Freedom on the issue of civilian casualties.
The Security Council began its work today by unanimously adopting two resolutions extending UN peacekeeping missions. The UN Mission in Haiti was extended by one year, while the one in Georgia was extended by six months.
SECRETARY-GENERALS SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE MEETS PRESIDENT OF DR CONGO
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, William Lacy Swing, and the UN Force Commander there, General Boubacar Gueye, met earlier today with Congolese President Joseph Kabila in Goma, in northeastern DRC. They discussed the security situation in the North Kivu province, where a military stand-off between Government forces and dissident soldiers, led by renegade General Laurent Nkunda, continues.
The UN Mission in the DRC this weekend issued a statement in which it reiterated its firm support for the Congolese Army, in accordance with its mandate to assist the Government in restoring and extending state authority throughout the country. The Mission urged all dissident troops to rejoin the Army immediately, a move for which the necessary arrangements, including reception sites and transportation, have already been made.
Speaking on the Missions assistance to the Army, Force Commander General Gueye confirmed that UN peacekeepers have taken up the medical evacuation of the Congolese Armys wounded and the transportation of their reinforcements and ammunition. General Gueye also said that UN peacekeepers are coordinating with humanitarian agencies on the ground. Finding a solution to the crisis, he added, remains the peacekeepers top priority.
SECRETARIAT ADDRESSES CRIMINAL ACCOUNTABILITY IN SIXTH COMMITTEE
In a statement today in the Sixth Committee on criminal accountability of U.N. officials, the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Nicolas Michel, stressed that the Secretariat does not and cannot condone criminal conduct by its officials and experts on mission.
He stressed that failure to prosecute offenders brings on a perception of impunity, which would aggravate the negative effects that such incidents generate. He highlighted the need for the international community to act resolutely and take serious efforts to address the problem of criminal accountability of UN officials and experts on mission, in a timely and efficient manner.
The Under-Secretary-General also noted the Secretariat supports the recommendation of the Group of Legal Experts for an international convention to be developed to address the current jurisdictional gaps, especially for crimes committed in the context of peacekeeping operations, adding that the adoption of such convention is a long-term measure to address the problem.
U.N. MISSION IN HAITI ACTIVE ON EMERGENCY FLOOD AID
Joel Boutroue, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Haiti, this weekend accompanied Haitian Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis to the town of Cabaret to assess damages from the massive rainfall that flooded the region, causing serious destruction of property and livelihoods.
The UN Stabilization Mission (MINUSTAH) says that it is actively involved in coordinating the emergency aid coming to Haiti in response to the flood. The Mission provided logistical support to the authorities and, together with Haitian Police, helped relocate families affected by the recent floods.
MATERNAL MORTALITY REDUCTION TOO SLOW TO MEET MILLENNIUM GOAL
Several U.N. agencies have
released figures showing that the maternal mortality rate is declining too slowly to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing the number of women who die in pregnancy and childbirth by three-quarters by 2015.
To achieve that goal, an annual decline of more than 5 percent is required, but the figure is currently dropping by less than one percent a year. In 2005, more than half a million women died of maternal causes, and 99 percent of those deaths were in developing countries, with more than half in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Deputy Secretary-General, who addressed the challenges facing Africa, in Oslo today also cited the current maternal mortality rates and described them as shockingly high. A woman in Africa has a one in 16 chance to die in childbirth or from complications of pregnancy, compared with a likelihood of one in 3,800 in the developed world, she said.
WORLD HEALTH AGENCY WARNS OF RISK OF CHOLERA IN SOMALIA
The World Health Organization (WHO) is warning about an imminent risk of cholera in southern Somalia. Seven new cases have been confirmed so far.
This comes after an outbreak of the disease three months ago, during which more than 1,100 people died. UNICEF has begun delivering cholera kits and Oral Dehydration Therapy supplies to the area.
U.N., AID GROUPS OPEN NEW BASE IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
In the Central African Republic, the U.N. and several non-governmental organizations have opened a new base of operations in Paoua.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says the new presence in the countrys northwest will help improve the effectiveness of humanitarian assistance there.
At present, the majority of the population is unable to access essential goods and receive adequate protection, OCHA says.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER WRAPS UP VISIT TO SRI LANKA
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour wrapped up her visit to Sri Lanka over the weekend. In a
statement at the conclusion of her trip, she expressed alarm about the large number of reported unresolved killings, abductions and disappearances.
She called for independent information gathering and public reporting on allegations of human rights abuses, noting that the absence of reliable information on that subject is one of the countrys major human rights shortcomings.
She added that the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commissions failure to appoint relevant commissioners, and to systematically conduct public inquiries and issue timely reports, had created a crisis of confidence. She offered the support of her office, and stressed the urgent need to create a productive relationship between her office and the Sri Lankan Government.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONGRATULATES NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNERS
The Secretary-General, before he ended his brief trip to Washington last week, gave a brief press encounter on Friday in which he expressed his delight at the news that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 was awarded to former US Vice-President Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
He said that the award shows clear recognition of the urgency and significance of addressing global warming. He said that Gore has provided a good example of how individuals can make a difference in raising the awareness of this important global challenge.
This is a global challenge that requires global action, the Secretary-General said, adding, I will continuously be engaged in this fight.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that the award is a remarkable testament to the dedication and commitment of the thousands of experts and participants who have produced the Panel's rigorous and comprehensive assessments of climate change research.
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