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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-02-11

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 MICHELE

MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, February 11, 2008

TIMOR LESTE: BAN KI-MOON CONDEMNS IN STRONGEST POSSIBLE TERMS

ATTACKS ON PRESIDENT, PRIME MINISTER AND URGES CALM

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is shocked and dismayed to learn of today's incidents in Timor Leste in which President Jose Ramos Horta was shot and wounded and a number of others killed or injured. The convoy of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao was also attacked.

The UN Police (UNPol) is on a high state of alert and is coordinating with the International Security Forces (ISF) and the Timorese authorities.

Upon receipt of this information Special Representative Atul Khare immediately left the United States and is on his way back to Dili.

The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest possible terms these unacceptable attacks on the legitimate institutions of the state and calls on the Timorese people to remain calm and refrain from all violent acts.

In Dili, the Secretary-Generals acting Special Representative for Timor-Leste, Finn Reske-Nielsen, strongly deplored the latest violence where the Timorese President and the Prime Minister were targeted by rebel soldiers.

Speaking at a press conference, the acting Special Representative confirmed two deaths from the incidents, including that of fugitive Alfredo Reinado.

Over the course of the day, the United Nations has been in a series of

high-level meetings with the Timorese Government, the International Security Forces and the local police. The meetings were aimed to ensure that there is a coordinated response to the incidents and the UN Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) will continue to ensure that this coordination continues under the leadership of the Prime Minister.

Reske-Nielsen also said that the U.N. and Timorese police, together with the International Security Forces, is currently investigating the incidents and continuing an assessment of the security situation, in Dili and other districts.

He added security measures have been augmented throughout the day with additional forces being placed in areas believed to be at potential risk given the latest events.

Asked about reports alleging that UN forces were unhelpful following the attack on Ramos Horta, the Spokeswoman said that the security arrangements for the President were the responsibility of the countrys national forces. UN police, she said, were not guarding Ramos Hortas residence.

SECURITY COUNCIL WILL MEET TODAY ON TIMOR-LESTE

The Security Council has scheduled consultations at 3:00 this afternoon on Timor-Leste, to receive a briefing from the Department for Peacekeeping Operations on the attacks on President Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Gusmão and consider a Presidential Statement on those attacks.

The Council intend to hold a formal meeting on Timor-Leste following consultations.

BAN KI-MOON RENEWS CALL FOR INCLUSIVE CONSTITUTION-MAKING

PROCESS IN MYANMAR

The announcement by the Myanmar Government that it plans to hold a constitutional referendum in May, and multi-party democratic elections by 2010, marks the first establishment of a timeframe for the implementation of its political roadmap process.

In light of this announcement, the Secretary-General renews his call to the Myanmar authorities to make the constitution-making process inclusive, participatory and transparent in order to ensure that any draft constitution is broadly representative of the views of all the people of Myanmar.

In this regard, he believes it is now all the more important for the Myanmar leadership to engage without delay in a substantive and time-bound dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other relevant parties to the national reconciliation process.

The United Nations remains ready to continue to support this process with the cooperation of the parties concerned.

The Secretary-General believes this latest development also makes it essential that a visit to Myanmar by his Special Adviser, Ibrahim Gambari, be allowed to proceed without further delay.

Ibrahim Gambari is planning to be traveling to the region very soon. He is scheduled to visit Beijing 18-19 February, and intends to go from there to Jakarta and Singapore.

Asked about a request from the "Generation 88" students that the Secretary-General visit Myanmar, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General was aware of the groups statement, but added that no visit was planned at this point.

BAN KI-MOON STRONGLY CONDEMNS DEADLY ATTACKS ON WEST DARFUR TOWNS

The Secretary-General, in a statement issued over the weekend,

condemned in the strongest possible terms attacks on three towns in West Darfur reportedly by Janjaweed militia supported by Sudanese armed forces.

UNAMID (African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur) has received preliminary reports confirming that an estimated 200 casualties have resulted from the fighting, and that the town of Abu Suruj, which is home to thousands of civilians, has been burned to the ground.

The attack in Seleia is reported to have included air strikes from Government forces.

The Secretary-General stressed that all parties must adhere to international humanitarian law, which prohibits military attacks against civilians.

All parties must urgently cease hostilities, he said, and commit to the political process being led by the Special Envoys of the United Nations and African Union.

DARFUR ATTACKS SEND NEW WAVE OF REFUGEES INTO CHAD

The UN refugee agency said an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 refugees from Darfur have fled across the border into eastern Chad since the attacks on Friday.

A UN refugee agency team, along with humanitarian partners, was sent on an emergency mission through Chad's volatile eastern border region and they reported the refugees were destitute and terrified.

They told of their villages being looted and burned, and encircled by militia to prevent people from fleeing.

The refugees are mainly from the areas known to be a stronghold of the Sudanese opposition group, JEM (Justice and Equality Movement).

The new arrivals, mainly men, said thousands of women and children refugees were on their way to Chad to seek security.

Urgent measures are now underway in Chad to move the newly arrived refugees by truck, probably on Tuesday, to established refugee camps.

Before this fresh influx, UNHCR and its partners were already taking care of 240,000 refugees in 12 camps in eastern Chad.

U.N. AND SUDAN SIGN ACCORD PROVIDING LEGAL FRAMEWORK

FOR PEACEKEEPING OPERATION IN DARFUR

Also over the weekend, the Government of the Sudan (GoS) and the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)

signed the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in Khartoum.

The Agreement was signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Deng Alor and the UN-AU Joint Special Representative for Darfur Rodolphe Adada.

The Agreement provides the legal framework within which UNAMID will operate. It covers the activities of the military, police and civilian personnel of UNAMID.

The SOFA also deals with UNAMID funds, property, communications facilities, as well as the freedom of movement of UNAMID personnel, their safety and security, privileges and immunities, entry into, and exit from Sudan.

Asked about a Washington Post article on waste in peacekeeping operations in Sudan, the Spokeswoman said that the article referred to a 2006 Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) report concerning past problems in the UN Mission in Sudan. Those problems, she said, had since been fully addressed.

Montas added that the United Nations had been under immense pressure at the time to rapidly mount the operation in Sudan, and that the mission has been heavily audited since then, with 12 audits so far.

BAN KI-MOON: DEVELOPED COUNTRIES SHOULD

LEAD FIGHT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE

The Secretary-General this morning addressed the General Assemblys thematic debate on climate change. He said that the two-day debate will help to sustain the unprecedented momentum that propelled the climate change agenda forward so dramatically last year.

He noted that, as substantiated in an overview report presented today, every part of the UN system is committed to supporting Member States as an effective, inclusive and credible partner in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

He said that developed countries need to take a clear lead in addressing climate change, but success is possible only if all countries act. The more ambitious the commitments by developed countries, the more actions we can expect from developing countries.

The Secretary-General asserted that a deal in Copenhagen, on time, and in full, is his priority and that of all the Funds, Programmes and Agencies of the UN family.

TOP HUMANITARIAN OFFICIAL COMPLETES VISIT TO KENYA

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes wrapped up his three-day mission to

Kenya on Sunday, expressing his determination to help displaced communities return to normal life and calling for a rapid solution to the political crisis.

During his travels, Holmes met with dwellers at camps for the internally displaced and discussed their concerns about moving out of camps and between areas of Kenya.

He stressed that the United Nations is keeping up pressure to find a sustainable solution to the political problems through its support to the mediation efforts led by Kofi Annan, while offering impartial humanitarian assistance to people in need, regardless of their political or ethnic affiliation.

Holmes welcomed the calm in recent days, adding his hope that the violence will stop and emphasizing that those responsible for the violence should be held accountable.

UNIVERSAL POSTAL UNION MOVES PLANNED CONGRESS

FROM NAIROBI TO GENEVA

The Universal Postal Union says that because of the current situation in Kenya, its Council of Administration has decided to change the venue of the 24th Universal Postal Congress from Nairobi to Geneva.

The UPU Congress was originally slated for August 13th until September 3 in Nairobi. But the agency now says that the gathering of some 1,500 delegates from the 191 countries will take place from mid-July through early August in Geneva.

U.N. SUSPENDS SOMALIA OPERATIONS FOR A WEEK AFTER ATTACKS

All United Nations operations in Mogadishu, Afgooye and Kismayo have been suspended for the remainder of this week following weekend attacks on the UN compound in Mogadishu. There were no casualties.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that a number of international NGOs have also temporarily suspended travel of staff to the countryside where similar attacks have taken place in the past week.

HEAD OF DR CONGO MISSION CAUTIOUSLY WELCOMES

POST-AGREEMENT PROGRESS IN THE KIVUS

Alan Doss, the Special Representative of the Secretary General in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has welcomed the progress achieved so far in the wake of the Goma Acte dengagements. Doss also called on all armed groups to respect the agreement, warning that the signing of the agreement alone would not automatically restore in the Kivus.

Doss placed particular emphasis on the need to implement all aspects of the agreement and reaffirmed the UN Missions readiness to monitor the cease fire on the ground.

Meanwhile, the United Nations is set to chair the next meeting of the Joint Monitoring Group at the level of Special Envoys, which is due to take place in Brussels on Friday 15th. The meeting is a further follow-up to the Nairobi Communiqué.

SPECIAL ENVOY FOR WESTERN SAHARA HOLDS REGIONAL CONSULTATIONS

The Secretary-Generals Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Peter Van Walsum, is continuing his consultations with parties and neighbouring states in the region ahead of the planned fourth round of UN-brokered talks, set for 11-13 March in Manhasset.

Following meetings with senior Moroccan officials in Rabat late last week, the Personal Envoy was in received in Rabouni on Saturday by Secretary General Mohamed Abdelaziz and other members of the Frente Polisario leadership.

Van Walsum told journalists that he was in the region to listen to the views of the parties and the neighbouring states on how to move into more substantial negotiations. The positions of the parties remain far apart, Van Walsum added. But he confirmed that the parties had reiterated their intention to participate in the planned talks next month in Manhasset.

Van Walsums trip to the region concludes this week with planned discussions on Tuesday in Algiers, followed by meetings on Thursday in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott.

URGENT RESPONSE NEEDED FOR SOUTHERN AFRICAN FLOOD VICTIMS

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is

seeking some $89 million to help the governments of Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe respond to recent floods.

The floods have destroyed thousands of homes, devastated crops and left some half a million people in urgent need of assistance.

OCHA says the money it is seeking will also be used to ready a response in case of rainfalls that experts could lead to new floods causing widespread damage and leaving another 805,000 people at risk.

BAN KI-MOON WILL MEET WITH U.S. PRESIDENT THURSDAY

The Secretary-General will travel to Washington for a two-day visit on Thursday.

The Secretary General is scheduled to meet President Bush at the White House on Friday, February 15.

They will discuss issues of common interest to the United Nations and the United States, including climate change, the Millennium development goals human rights, counterterrorism, and international peace and security.

The Secretary-General and the President are also expected to discuss important regional issues such as Darfur, Kenya, the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Secretary General is also scheduled to meet Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday evening.

The Spokeswoman, in response to a question, said that Kosovo would be among the topics discussed during the Secretary-Generals meetings in Washington. The Secretary-General, she noted, is fully informed of recent developments in Kosovo.

BAN KI-MOON IS DEEPLY SADDENED BY

DEATH OF U.S. CONGRESSMAN TOM LANTOS

The Secretary-General was deeply saddened to learn of the death of his friend

Tom Lantos, the veteran United States legislator, Holocaust survivor, human rights advocate and long-time supporter of the United Nations. He extends his sympathy and condolences to Mr. Lantos wife, Annette, and to their family at this painful time.

The Secretary-General pays tribute to Mr. Lantos exceptional courage and contribution, in the national and international arenas, as a champion of our common humanity.

Mr. Lantos' immeasurable efforts in attuning the consciousness and the conscience of people to the dangers of intolerance and human rights violations will long be remembered.

The Secretary-General joins Mr. Lantos colleagues in the United States Congress, the Jewish community and the international community in giving thanks for his life.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

BAN KI-MOON, MEXICAN PRESIDENT DISCUSS WIDE OF RANGE OF ISSUES AT TODAYS MEETING: Asked about the Secretary-Generals meeting today with President Felipe Calderon of Mexico, the Spokeswoman later said that they discussed the Millennium Development Goals, climate change, counter-narcotics and anti-crimes efforts, collaboration in human rights areas and Mexico's contributions to the United Nations.

EXPERTS MEET TO EXAMINE STANDARDS IN IMPORT AND EXPORT

OF CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS: The Group of Governmental Experts, which is to examine the feasibility, scope and draft parameters of common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms, is meeting here at Headquarters, from today until Friday. Experts from 28 Member States were invited to attend the Group, which was established by the Secretary-General pursuant to General Assembly resolution 61/89 of 6 December 2006.

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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