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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-10-17

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

BAN KI-MOON STRONGLY CONDEMNS SOMALI

FORCES

ILLEGAL ENTRY INTO U.N. COMPOUND AND DETENTION OF U.N. OFFICIAL

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly

condemns the

forceful and illegal entry of Government security forces into the United

Nations compound in Mogadishu, and the detention of a United Nations official.

The Secretary-General calls for the immediate and

unconditional release of the staff member.

The Secretary-General reminds the Transitional Federal

Government of Somalia of its obligation to protect all United Nations staff

members and property. Todays actions are in flagrant violation of the 1946

Convention on Privileges and Immunity, to which the Somali government formally

committed in the January 2006 agreement.

Asked about UN security arrangements in Somalia, the

Spokeswoman said those arrangements could not prevent the forceful and illegal

entry by the government into the UN compound, which had necessitated the

statement.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME SUSPENDS

DISTRIBUTIONS IN MOGADISHU

The World Food Programme

says the

incident happened this morning at 8:15 local time. WFP says that between 50

and 60 armed members of the Somali National Security Service (NSS) entered the

UN compound in an unauthorized manner, over the protests of UN staff members.

No shots were fired, but WFPs officer-in-charge, Idris Osman, was taken away

at gunpoint. He is now being held in a cell at NSS headquarters near the presidential palace, according to WFP.

In light of Osmans detention and the need to safeguard its staff, WFP says it has been forced to immediately suspend a food distribution programme that began in Mogadishu on Monday. The programme, aimed at providing food to more than 75,000 people through local mosques, was WFPs first distribution in the Somali capital since June.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) notes that this comes at a time when more than 1.5 million Somalis need assistance and protection, a 50 percent increase since the beginning of the year. OCHA notes a deteriorating food security situation in central and southern Somalia, due to an inadequate rainy season, as well as continuing internal displacements and a potential looming cholera epidemic.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME CONDEMNS KILLING

OF THREE OF ITS DRIVERS IN DARFUR

The World Food Programme (WFP) has condemned the killing of three contract truck drivers who were shot to death while working for the UN's food agency in Darfur.

Approximately 2,000 contract drivers and drivers' assistants work for WFP in Darfur, where the agency delivers food to three million people in its largest operation worldwide.

WFP has no information on who is responsible for the killings.

U.N. CONCERNED ABOUT RISING ATTACKS IN DARFUR

Increasing insecurity in the

Darfur region of Sudan has resulted in further attacks against civilians, aid workers, and AU troops, which are significantly impacting the civilian population and interrupting vital life-saving aid progammes at a time when they are most needed.

Some 4.2 million people in Darfur are currently in need of humanitarian assistance. Recent violence in the towns of Haskanita and Muhajariya in Darfur displaced nearly 90,000 civilians alone.

The United Nations is seriously concerned about the safety of civilians throughout Darfur.

Asked about comments from International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, purportedly saying that recent UN reports did not do enough to mention justice for Darfur and the outstanding arrest warrants, the Spokeswoman said that Moreno Ocampo was doing his job to raise awareness of the need for justice in Darfur. At the same time, she added, the Secretary-General had also repeatedly raised the issue of justice and has asserted that there should be no impunity.

SUMMARY OF PROCUREMENT CONTRACT FOR DARFUR FORCE

TO BE POSTED ONLINE

Asked whether the Pacific Architect Engineers, Inc. (PAE) procurement contract for the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) hybrid operation will be published, the Spokeswoman said that, as per the established procedures, summary information of the contract (such as the price, name of company, dates, etc.) will be posted on the UN Procurement website. Actual copies of the contract are not posted for commercial, legal and security reasons, she added.

Asked why the price of the contract was reduced from $700 million to $250 million, Okabe said that, following negotiations with the vendor, the initial planning requirements were further clarified and better specified by the logisticians and experts from the Department of Field Support (DFS), and therefore much uncertainty was eliminated, substantially reducing the price.

The contractual risk for the vendor and the UN was reviewed in depth, she added, thus resulting in further price savings. Finally, additional savings have been achieved through the normal negotiation process, using benchmarking, market survey, among other things.

Okabe also noted that the $250 million sum is a Not to Exceed (NTE) amount. The price is actually component-based, meaning that the United Nations pays only for those goods and services actually ordered, delivered, and approved for payment.

U.N. ENVOY DISCUSSES MYANMAR WITH REGIONAL LEADERS

The Special Advisor of the Secretary-General, Ibrahim Gambari, met today with Malaysias Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in the administrative capital Putrajaya. They had very detailed and substantive discussions on the U.N.'s efforts in Myanmar and the support the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other neighbouring countries could provide in this regards.

Before departing Malaysia, Gambari spoke to the press, highlighting that the Secretary-General is absolutely committed to working with the government of Myanmar, with neighboring countries, and with ASEAN, to achieve the goals of a peaceful, democratic, prosperous Myanmar, with full respect for the human rights of its own people.

Gambari is now in Jakarta where he is scheduled to meet Indonesias President and Foreign Minister tomorrow. From there, he is expected to move on to India, China and finally to Japan.

at UN Headquarters, the Secretary-General yesterday, in remarks to the press, strongly urged Myanmar authorities to fully implement the seven-point road map for democratization, adding that the way the authorities treated the demonstrators was abhorrent and unacceptable.He also stressed that Myanmar authorities should think about the future of their country and of their people, reflecting and respecting all the wishes of the international community.

Asked whether the Secretary-General supports the government's seven-point roadmap for Myanmar, the Spokeswoman noted that the Secretary-General had encouraged the Myanmar authorities to pursue the seven-point plan, which needs to be more inclusive and participatory. However, she added, Gambari had elaborated other elements to the Security Council and the press in recent days.

She said that the new elements to be pursued were developed following the recent developments in Myanmar, including the detention and treatment of detainees which the Secretary-General had deemed abhorrent and unacceptable."

U.N. MISSION IN DR CONGO DENIES IT IS SUPPORTING DISSIDENT TROOPS

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has categorically denied Congolese press reports accusing it of providing support to dissident troops led by renegade General Laurent Nkunda.

The Mission declared earlier today in Kinshasa that UN peacekeepers are fully committed to discharging the mandate entrusted them by the Security Council to assist the Government in restoring state authority, including in the area of security.

Meanwhile, the situation remains tense in North Kivu in the east, where the standoff between the Government Army and dissident troops continues. Some 150 schoolchildren from the Rutshuru area, some as young as 7, were given refuge yesterday by UN peacekeepers after fleeing attempts to enlist them into Nkundas force. An unknown number of schoolchildren fled in other directions, and remain unaccounted for, two days after Nkunda troops surrounded their school in the center of Rutshuru.

In the Ituri province, UN disarmament workers report that some 1,800 former combatants have now joined the cantonment sites. However, an undefined number of fighters, in particular those from the FNI armed group, remain staunchly opposed to joining the disarmament drive.

AMID DECLINING VIOLENCE, U.N. EXPANDS ROLE IN IRAQ

The Secretary-General, in his latest report to the Security Council on Iraq, says that there is now an opportunity in the country that should not be missed.

September witnessed the lowest number of Iraqi casualties for the year, and there has also been a decrease in violence resulting from the ceasefire by the Mahdi Army.

The Secretary-General said that he welcomes the new UN mandate in Iraq, including the expansion of the UN role in advancing national dialogue and reconciliation. He said he has already strengthened the UN team in Iraq, by increasing the staff ceiling in Baghdad and Erbil, and is also considering other ways to improve outreach to the provinces, including re-establishing a small UN presence in Basra.

Asked about UN staff levels in Iraq, the Spokeswoman said that the ceiling for international civilian staff in Baghdad, which had been at 65, has been raised to 85. There are also now some 30 international staff in Erbil.

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES WORK OF PEACEBUILDING COMMISSION

The Security Council held an open debate today on the work of the Peacebuilding Commission, which began with a briefing by the Chairman of the Commissions Organizational Committee, Yukio Takasu.

The Commission has taken on Sierra Leone and Burundi as its first cases.

KOSOVO: ROMA FAMILIES RETURN TO ORIGINAL LANDS

The UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have helped more than a hundred members of the Roma community to return to their original lands.

The returns project, which is still ongoing, is also working towards the reintegration of Roma families back into the social fabric of northern Kosovos Mitrovica municipality.

UNICEF NOTES GAINS IN FIGHT AGAINST MALARIA IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Significant gains are being made in the fight against malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a newly-released report prepared by UNICEF on behalf of the Roll Malaria Partnership.

The report shows that the supply of insecticide-treated nets more than doubled between 2004 and 2006, to 63 million. There have also been marked improvements in the distribution of those nets to communities in greatest need, the report notes.

Net usage still falls short of global targets, however, and not enough infected children are receiving effective treatment, UNICEF says. It is encouraging greater commitments from donors and bolder efforts by national governments to scale up malaria programmes.

U.N. LAUNCHES IMPROVED HIV/AIDS SERVICES PROJECT IN NEPAL

The UN Refugee Agency yesterday launched a new project for strengthening HIV and AIDS services among the conflict-affected populations in Nepal.

With funding from the Department for International Development funneled through UNAIDS, the six-month project will be implemented in six districts across the country.

UNHCR representative in Nepal, Abraham Abraham, said the new programme is a result of a joint UN assessment undertaken in November 2006, and will help better respond to the protection and prevention of HIV/AIDS.

UNITED NATIONS STANDS UP TO FIGHT POVERTY

The Secretary-General today observed the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty at a ceremony on the North Lawn. He led delegates and staff members in reciting an anti-poverty pledge.

Last year, 23.5 million people in more than 100 countries took part in the first "Standing Up Against Poverty" event, setting a Guinness World Record that the organizers hoped to break this year.

In a message to mark the day, the Secretary-General says that our global scorecard for fighting poverty is mixed and he appeals for a show of political will to end the scourge of poverty once and for all.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Secretary-General, speaking at a similar event in London today, says that poverty can be eradicated only if Governments of both developed and developing countries live up to their promises.

The North Lawn observance featured testimonies from people facing extreme poverty, a musical piece, and the presentation of awards to five children who won the UNs international childrens art competition on ending poverty. Over 12,000 children took part in the competition; the six winning designs will be issued as UN stamps in 2008.

UNESCO HELPS LAUNCH DIGITAL LIBRARY

TO MAKE RARE ITEMS AVAILABLE ONLINE

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the US Library of Congress joined forces in Paris today to build a World Digital Library, following an agreement

signed by both institutions.

This library will gather and digitize unique materials from all around the world, including manuscripts, maps, books, musical scores, sound recordings, films, prints, and photographs, and make them available free of charge on the Internet.

MORE THAN 400 PEOPLE DIED WHILE CROSSING GULF OF ADEN

The UN Refugee agency (UNHCR) is concerned about the increasing number of smuggling boats carrying people across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen, as well as the appalling death toll among the Somalis and Ethiopians making the crossing.

UNHCR says it continues to receive harrowing reports of passengers being stabbed, beaten and thrown overboard.

So far this year, more than 400 people are known to have died during the crossing, while almost that many remain missing.

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055

to the Spokesperson's Page


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