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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-02-08

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:







Friday, February 8, 2008



Jan Eliasson, the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for Darfur, and Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed the Security Council this morning on Sudan.

Speaking on his efforts to re-energize the political process for Darfur, together with his African Union counterpart, Salim Ahmed Salim, Jan Eliasson reported that progress had been made to bring the parties closer to the negotiating table.

However, he said that unification and coordination efforts remain fraught with difficulties and prospects for quick agreements on common positions and a negotiation team appear dim.

Convening a preparatory meeting would be premature at this time, he said. Eliasson noted the fragile security situation, the tense Chad-Sudan relationship and its effects in the region and on the political process in Darfur.

Following a year of preparations for the talks, Eliasson also said it is necessary to have a full-time Joint AU-UN Chief Mediator in Sudan to engage the parties on a continuous basis.

Jean-Marie Guéhenno briefed on his recent visit to the UN-AU mission in Darfur, which he described as sobering.

He flagged the hostilities between the government of Sudan and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) group in West Darfur, as the principle security concern in Darfur.

During his visit, Guéhenno said, it became clear that UNAMID is severely under-resourced for the task which it was mandated to perform. He added that the number of troops, police, and their enabling capabilities in the mission area are simply not sufficient to provide protection for Darfurs civilians in the current hostile environment.

While noting the progress in consultations on the status of forces agreement, he pointed to other outstanding issues regarding UNAMIDs deployment, such as the need for full freedom of movement for the mission and the governments cooperation in extending visas for contractors providing services to the peacekeepers in Darfur.

He also urged troop and police contributors to do everything possible to expedite their pre-deployment preparations and arrive with the required capabilities as swiftly as possible.

Guéhenno warned Council members to be prepared for the eventuality that UNAMID is forced to operate in an environment of continued hostilities and its consequences.


UNAMIDs Force Commander and Chairman of the Darfur Ceasefire Commission, Genera Martin Luther Agwai, issued a statement appealing for an immediate halt to attacks by Sudanese forces against villages in West Darfur.

The Force Commander says that many houses in the village of Abu Souruj have been burned. From initial information, it appears there has been loss of life. Attacks have also been reported in Sirba, and there are allegations of aerial bombing in Silea village.

In addition to the loss of life and damage to property, he says, there is the potential for the displacement of large numbers of villagers, compounding an already critical humanitarian situation.

It is important that all sides show full restraint at this time, and that space be allowed for immediate mediation, he says.


The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has started an emergency airlift to bring aid to the refugees who had fled from NDjamena in Chad into Cameroon in recent days. By Sunday, two flights carrying 90 tonnes of supplies will have arrived in the Cameroonian border town of Kousseri.

The UN Refugee Agency says that Chadians who had fled to Cameroon to escape fighting between rebel and government forces started trickling back home Wednesday morning after an uneasy calm returned to the capital, N'Djamena.

Some were returning just for the day and planning to return to Cameroon overnight, UNHCR says, while other residents of the capital were still making their way across the border bridge to the security of the neighbouring country.

The UN Refugee Agency team in Kousseri estimates 20,000 to 30,000 Chadians streamed over the Chari River to Kousseri in Cameroon after fighting erupted in the Chad capital last Saturday between rebel forces and the army. The UN team is on the ground in Kousseri to help provide shelter and assistance to those Chadians who fled. Two UNHCR trucks have reached Kousséri with 12 tonnes of relief items.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals views on the situation in Chad, the Spokeswoman noted that he had issued a statement on Chad recently. She noted that the situation in Chad is being followed closely by the Secretary-Generals office.


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is in Chicago, where this morning he met with students at Walter Payton High School before attending a working luncheon with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

He spoke last night at a dinner with the Economic Club of Chicago, and discussed with the assorted business leaders the ways in which Chicago has been a pioneer in dealing with climate change, thanks in large measure to Mayor Richard Daleys determination to make the city one of the greenest in America.

He noted that the people of Chicago have become leaders in environmental design, conservation and alternative energy, have planted half a million trees and have raised public awareness about global warming and galvanized political will for change.

With the right financial incentives and a global framework, the Secretary-General said, we can steer economic growth in a low-carbon direction. Done right, he asserted, our war against climate change is an economic opportunity, not a cost.

Earlier on Thursday, the Secretary-General had a working luncheon with Mayor Daley, and told the Mayor that the United Nations and Chicago share one common goal and vision that is addressing climate change, to make this planet earth more hospitable and environmentally sustainable for generations to come.


Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes

arrived in Kenya today to begin a three-day visit to the country, during which he will assess the humanitarian situation and ensure sustained UN support for the people of Kenya.

He met with former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who is leading the mediation efforts there, to discuss how humanitarian assistance can contribute to ending the current political crisis.

He also met with Kenyan officials dealing with the implementation of relief operations, and with the head of the Kenya Red Cross Society, a key humanitarian partner.

On Saturday, Holmes will travel to the cities of Kakuru and Molo in the west, where he will meet those who have been affected by the recent violence.

The World Food Programme has distributed food to 212,000 people in Kenyas Rift Valley and the west, as well as 160,000 people in Nairobi. Food rations are being distributed in all the main sites for internally displaced persons.


The Secretary-General has appointed Thomas Stelzer of Austria as Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, succeeding Mr. Patrizio Civili of Italy.

Since August 2001, Mr. Stelzer has been serving in Vienna, as Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN Industrial Development Organization and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization.

Mr. Stelzer has held a number of other diplomatic and international posts during his career.


SEARCH CONTINUES FOR U.N. ENVOY IN AFGHANISTAN: Asked whether the Secretary-General had found a new Special Representative for Afghanistan, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General was at present working to find someone for that post.

NO PLANS FOR BAN KI-MOON VISIT TO GAZA: Asked whether the Secretary-General would visit

Gaza, the Spokeswoman said that there were no plans for such a visit at this point. Asked about the fuel cuts in Gaza, she noted that the Secretary-General had already expressed his opinions about the need to lift the restrictions on Gaza. The Secretary-General sees Gaza as part of a single Palestinian territory, she added.

SECRETARY-GENERAL NOTES REQUEST ON MYANMAR VISIT: The Spokeswoman, asked about reported comments from Thailands Prime Minister that the Secretary-General should visit

Myanmar, said that the Secretary-General takes note of that request but has no plans as yet for a visit.


Saturday, February 9

Through tomorrow, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes is in Nairobi, as well as in Nakuru and Molo, in western Kenya, to assess the humanitarian situation in Kenya.

Monday, February 11

Through 28 March, the Conference on Disarmament continues to meet in Geneva.

From today through 22 February, the Ad Hoc Committee of the Human Rights Council on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) meets in Geneva.

From today through 15 February, the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of the Committee against Torture (OP-CAT) holds its 4th Session in Geneva.

At the World Meteorological Organizations headquarters in Geneva, Rupa Kumar Kolli of the Climate Prediction and Adaptation Branch of WMOs Climate and Water Department briefs the press on La Niña, the extensive cooling of the central and eastern Pacific.

Today and tomorrow, the General Assembly holds a thematic debate on Addressing Climate Change: The United Nations and the World at Work. Following their address to the General Assembly, the President of the 62nd Session of the General Assembly, Srgjan Kerim, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will hold a press encounter outside the Trusteeship Council Chamber at 10.15 a.m. The President will address the press again later today, at 12.30 p.m. in S226, with Sir Richard Branson, CEO of the Virgin Group, and Actress Daryl Hannah.

Tuesday, February 12

At the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, will hold a press conference.

The Security Council has scheduled an open debate on children and armed conflict.

Wednesday, February 13

The Security Council has scheduled consultations to review sanctions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Thursday, February 14

In Geneva, Christian Balslev-Olesen, the UNICEF Representative in Somalia, will brief the press on the situation of children in Somalia.

Today the General Assembly holds a Review Session on Chapter I of the Monterrey Consensus: Mobilizing Domestics Financial Resources for Development.

The Security Council expects to hold a formal meeting to vote on a resolution on sanctions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has also scheduled a debate, followed by consultations, on Timor-Leste.

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Trusteeship Council Chamber, the United Nations Foundation and Ceres host the Investor Summit on Climate Risk to discuss the economic impacts of climate change. At 1.30 p.m. in S226, investors from Connecticut, Florida, California and the British Telecom Pension Scheme, hold a press conference to announce the Investor Action Plan.

Friday, February 15

Today the General Assembly holds a Review Session on Chapter II of the Monterrey Consensus: Mobilizing International Resources for Development: Foreign Direct Investment and other Private Flows.

The Security Council has scheduled consultations on Somalia.

At 10 a.m. in S226, Joaquín Antuña, President of Peace and Cooperation, and Nancy Rivard, President of Airline Ambassadors, hold a press conference to launch the Peace and Cooperation School Award 2008: Water for all. [This press conference is sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Spain]

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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