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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-02-12
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS OPEN DEBATE ON CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICT
The Security Council is holding an open debate today on children and armed conflict.
Briefing Council members this morning, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, said systematic and deliberate attacks on schoolchildren are escalating in certain conflicts.
In Afghanistan, for example, such attacks target girls schools. She also noted that, in regional conflicts, such as in Africas Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa, cross-border recruitment of children from refugee camps is surging.
Coomaraswamy added that the detention of children for alleged association with armed groups, in violation of international standards, is increasingly worrisome.
Also briefing the Council this morning was UNICEFs Executive Director, Ann Veneman, who said that it was possible to reintegrate former child soldiers back into society. Nevertheless, reintegration is a difficult and long process requiring patience and long-term commitment, she added.
INVESTIGATIONS INTO ATTACKS ON TIMORESE PRESIDENT
AND PRIME MINTER ARE WELL UNDERWAY
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Timor-Leste, Atul Khare, upon return to Dili today said that although he is deeply concerned on the latest violence, assurance has been given that investigations to reveal the facts on yesterdays shooting incidents are well underway.
The Special Representative commended the people and government of Timor-Leste for reacting in a calm manner to these events, and for taking appropriate measures to deal with the tragedy and coordinate the various security institutions of the country.
He also said both the Parliament and the opposition have played exemplary and constructive roles during this critical period, offering their support to the government.
Meanwhile the Security Council yesterday adopted a statement condemning in the strongest terms the latest violence, stressing that it represents an attack on the legitimate institutions of Timor-Leste. The 15-member body also called on the government to bring to justice those responsible for this heinous act and urged "all Timorese parties to cooperate actively with the authorities."
Asked about the reasons behind the recent violence in Timor-Leste, the Spokesperson said that was a matter for the Timorese to assess. For its part, the Government of Timor-Leste was investigating the matter.
EASTERN CHAD: NEW SUDANESE REFUGEES IN PRECARIOUS SITUATION
The UN refugee agency says that some 10,000-12,000 refugees from West Darfur who fled across the border into eastern Chad to escape militia attacks and bombing are in a very precarious situation along the volatile border. And they are anxiously waiting to start being moved to a UNHCR camp. The new arrivals will place a severe strain on existing camp facilities.
The agency says the refugees are destitute, having fled by night, walking across the border and bringing no possessions. Many of the refugees mainly women and children had already been internally displaced within Darfur living in camps in Sirba. There were also people from the villages attacked amongst the refugees. The humanitarian situation is dramatic. Local Chadians, as usual, have responded in a very generous manner, providing the new arrivals with what food they could spare and water, according to UNHCR.
Meanwhile, in Cameroon, a second Ilyushin-76 cargo plane chartered by UNHCR landed in the northern town of Garoua for thousands of Chadian refugees. Today (Tuesday), relief items are scheduled to reach northern Cameroon, where an estimated 30,000 Chadians have found refuge following heavy fighting in N'Djamena.
The refugees remain in and around Cameroons north-eastern town of Kousséri, hosted in schools, churches, and local homes, as well as two temporary sites. The local population has been very hospitable, and the United Nations thanks them and Cameroonian authorities for the help provided.
And in south Chad, some 6,000 to 7,000 refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) have crossed the border since late January with more reportedly on their way. The refugees started crossing to neighbouring Chad in late January fleeing attacks from bandits in northern CAR.
Victor Angelo, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative in Chad and the Central African Republic, said today that he would work to help persuade armed groups in the region to lay down their weapons and join a political process. Angelo also stressed the need to respond to the humanitarian crisis in both countries.
Asked about the situation of refugees in Chad and about reports that Chad might not continue accepting them, the Spokesperson stressed that UN agencies were currently doing everything possible to help the people who were crossing the border.
SECURITY SITUATION IMPROVES ACROSS KENYA
AMID MASSIVE POPULATION MOVEMENTS
The UN Country Team reports that the general security situation is calm though tense and volatile in the towns of Eldoret and Kericho.
The Country Team says large numbers of internally displaced persons are on the move toward what Kenyan authorities describe as their ancestral homes. This IDP exodus is especially massive from the central to the western parts of the country. In the Western Province and the Nyanza Province, the new arrivals are placing a serious strain on school and health systems, which are now operating way beyond capacity.
Amid concerns about food security, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that the first round of food distributions has been completed in South Rift Valley. OCHA says that some 47 tonnes of food were handed out at 19 camps for the internally displaced in the Kipelion and Nakuru districts.
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme and its local partners are continuing an assessment in all districts of the Central Province. And while some 500 WFP containers remain at the Mombasa seaport, some 2,500 tonnes of food were successfully dispatched from Mombasa to various locations inside and outside of Kenya in recent days.
HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES
HIGHLIGHTS PLIGHT OF UPROOTED IRAQIS
The High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, is in Jordan today, for a weeklong mission to the region aimed at highlighting the plight of millions of uprooted Iraqis and the efforts by host countries to help them. He would next travel to Damascus.
Meanwhile, the international aid community today appealed for a comprehensive international response to help vulnerable people in Iraq over the next 12 months.
UN agencies and NGOs said $265 million is needed to deliver urgent relief to Iraqis suffering under the humanitarian crisis inside the country.
Under the appeal, WFP says it planned to assist up to 750,000 displaced persons in Iraq.
MORE THAN $850 MILLION NEEDED TO HELP WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN EMERGENCIES
UNICEF today launched its Humanitarian Action Report for 2008, calling on donors to provide $856 million to help children and women in emergencies in 39 different countries around the world.
The report contains information on countries experiencing severe political crises, such as Chad and Kenya, as well as countries struck by severe natural disasters, such as Mozambique.
The report also highlights the worrying trend of women and children increasingly falling victim to systematic rape, which is often used as a weapon of war by different groups.
FIRST GLOBAL FORUM ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING TO BEGIN FRIDAY: The first-ever global forum to fight human trafficking will take place in Vienna starting tomorrow and lasting through Friday. The forum, which is a joint endeavor by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, will bring together twelve hundred experts, legislators, business leaders, representatives of law enforcement teams and non-governmental organizations, and trafficking victims from 116 countries. Participants will include Egyptian First Lady Suzanne Mubarak, actress Emma Thompson, and pop star Ricky Martin.
U.N. DISASTER TEAM SURVEYS EARTHQUAKE DAMAGE IN D.R. CONGO: UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team arrived yesterday in the South Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to conduct disaster survey work following a series of earthquakes that hit the area and western Rwanda on February 3rd. The team will work with local UN and Congolese authorities on assessment of damage to infrastructure and will also study the environmental impact of the quakes in Bukavu and surrounding areas.
CORRECTION: U.N. OPERATIONS IN SOMALIA HAVE NOT BEEN SUSPENDED: UN operations in Somalia have not been suspended, contrary to what we reported yesterday. The United Nations has temporarily suspended official travel to certain limited areas of Somalia for UN staff, pending a reassessment of the security environment due to the many security incidents in the past two weeks. Operations are ongoing with international and national UN staff and with implementing partners."
UNRWA NOT APPROACHED ABOUT SEIZED JORDANIAN AID: Asked about reports in Gaza that Hamas had intercepted Jordanian aid to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and had offered it to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the Spokesperson said UNRWA had not been approached about this.
ENVIRONMENT BODY ACTIVE ON CLIMATE CHANGE: Asked whether the Secretary-General, given his interest in climate change, wanted to restructure the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), as he had done with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), the Spokesperson clarified that, whereas DPKO was a part of the Secretariat, UNEP was a separate agency. She added that UNEP had already been active throughout the world on a number of fronts as it dealt with climate change issues.
BHUTTO INQUIRY A SECURITY COUNCIL MATTER: Asked about renewed calls for an international inquiry into the death of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the Spokesperson said that would be an issue for the Security Council to decide upon. Asked what the Secretary-General could do to bring this matter to the attention of Council members, Montas said he had already discussed the situation in Pakistan through his conversations with various delegates.
STAFF SECURITY PANEL BEING WORKED ON: Asked for an update on the UN panel for staff security, the Spokesperson said it was being worked on actively by Lakhdar Brahimi. Brahimi was not currently in New York, but would hopefully come to brief the press by the end of the week, she added.
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