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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-02-15

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







Friday, February 15, 2008


The Secretary-General is deeply concerned by the situation with the relocation of personnel and equipment of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), from Eritrea to designated relocation sites on the Ethiopian side.

Since the beginning of the movement of UNMEEs advance units on 11 February, not more than six vehicles have been allowed by the Eritrean authorities to cross into Ethiopia.

A number of UNMEE vehicles were stopped by the Eritrean Defense Forces and prevented from crossing the border. In one such case, on 14 February, UNMEE personnel were threatened and the equipment seized.

In a disturbing development, the Eritrean commercial company that provides rations to UNMEE has informed the Mission today that it will no longer be able to fulfill its contractual obligations. The Mission has only a few days of emergency rations left.

The Secretary-General is in close contact with the Security Council and the Troop Contributing Countries, and the Eritrean authorities are being contacted at the highest level to seek an immediate resolution of this unacceptable situation.

The Secretary-General calls on the Eritrean authorities to cease their obstruction of the relocation of UNMEE, with their equipment.

The UN reiterates that this relocation is temporary and that Eritrea must immediately meet its international obligations to cooperate with the mission.

The Spokeswoman later announced that the Security Council was holding consultations at 3 p.m. today in connection with Eritrea/Ethiopia.

Asked for more details about developments in UNMEE, the Deputy Spokesperson added that the UNs Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Support had briefed troop-contributing countries (TCCs) on 14 February on the relocation process. They insisted that Eritrea has an obligation to ensure that the peacekeepers relocate in dignity, safety and in an orderly manner, and also has to supply the fuel required for such relocation.

The UN is conveying this demand to the Government of Eritrea and are exploring contingency options to supply the mission with the food and fuel necessary to continue with the relocation of mission personnel and assets, Okabe added.

In response to a question, the Spokeswoman said the Secretariat had been given a mandate by the Security Council, which had in fact recently been extended by six months. In the meantime, UN peacekeepers in Eritrea are not able to carry out their mandated tasks, she said.

In response to a further question, Okabe said the majority of UNMEE troops were stationed in Eritrea.


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is encouraged by the progress toward resolving the political crisis in Kenya announced today in Nairobi.

The understandings reached by the parties to the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation process including the planned establishment of an independent review of the electoral process are important steps toward addressing the most urgent issues that led to the current situation.

The Secretary-General hopes these understandings will contribute immediately to reduced levels of violence in that country. He reiterates his deep concern for the protection of civilians and full respect for human rights in Kenya. He applauds all those Kenyans who in these trying times have reached out to their neighbors, irrespective of ethnic differences.

The Secretary-General calls on Kenyas leadership to continue to display the spirit of compromise and the vision of national reconciliation that will be critical to healing the Kenyan nation.

The Secretary-General congratulates the Panel of Eminent African Personalities for its critical role in this process and reiterates his full and continuing support to the mediation efforts of the Panel led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.


The Secretary-General today met with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington, DC. During the meeting, which lasted an hour and a half, the two discussed UN reform, with the Secretary-General briefing President Bush on his efforts to promote transparency and accountability at the UN.

In that context, the Secretary-General mentioned the Ethics Office and the Procurement Task Force. They also spoke about climate change, with the Secretary-General stressing the need for momentum for the Bali roadmap.

As President Bush is leaving for Africa today, they also discussed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in an African context, as well as developments in Darfur and Kenya.

On Myanmar, the Secretary-General briefed President Bush on the work of his Special Adviser, Ibrahim Gambari.

The two also touched on Kosovo, Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan.

The Secretary-General was scheduled to return to New York shortly.

Asked what the Secretary-General had said about Kosovo during his meeting today with President Bush, the Deputy Spokesperson said the Secretary-General had reaffirmed the importance of maintaining security and stability there.

Asked why the Secretary-General had been relatively silent on Kosovo, Okabe said Kosovo was a "very sensitive issue." As soon as the Secretary-General had something to say, it would be announced.


The Security Council was holding consultations at 3 p.m. today in connection with Eritrea/Ethiopia.

The Security Council this morning met to adopt a resolution on sanctions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Council decided to extend certain sanctions, as well as the mandate of the Group of Experts monitoring those sanctions, until March 31st.

Following adoption of that resolution, Council members were briefed by the Permanent Observer of the African Union on the African Union Mission in Somalia.

Council members then moved into consultations to further discuss Somalia and take up other matters. Consultations began with another briefing on Somalia this time by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet.


Filippo Grandi, the Deputy Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) today briefed reporters in Geneva on the current situation in Gaza, Lebanon and the West Bank.

Grandi said the director of a large public hospital in Gaza had told him that he could no longer deal with peoples health problems since he had to spend his whole day looking for fuel. Without fuel, generators and vital equipment, such as incubators for infants, would shut down.

Meanwhile, in the West Bank, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there are still over 560 blockages of various sorts, which are making peoples lives increasingly difficult. OCHA is concerned that such constraints may lead to increased political radicalization, particularly among the younger members of society.

In Lebanon, regarding the Nahr El-Bared camp for Palestinian refugees, which was destroyed last year in fighting, Grandi said that Lebanons Prime Minister and UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd have announced plans to rebuild the camp. The reconstruction of the camp proper essentially a small town for more than 30,000 people is expected to cost $174 million, which represents a scale that is unprecedented for the UN, according to Grandi.

Asked about a briefing at the Palestinian Rights Committee, in which a UN official said that money pledged at the recent Paris Donors Conference had not been received, the Deputy Spokesperson said follow-up on pledges which are different from contributions was often required.


High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, has appealed to the international community for further support to Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan and other host countries.

Stressing that the international response remains disproportionate to the scope of the challenges they face, the High Commissioner called for nations to increase the number of resettlement places and provide more support to Iraqis themselves through the programmes that assist the refugees.

He also asked the government of Iraq to be more active in supporting its uprooted people.

Guterres is on a weeklong mission to the region, with an overall objective to ensure that millions of Iraqis displaced by the conflict receive as much protection and assistance as possible.


The U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says it is very disturbed about an incident in eastern Chad on Tuesday. UNHCR says unknown armed elements blocked its attempt to move 179 refugee families, newly arrived from West Darfur, away from volatile border camps.

About 70 percent of the refugees are women and children. The agency has a representative at the border, who is trying to broker a solution to this issue.

Meanwhile, in Cameroon, UNHCR tomorrow plans to start its first transfer of Chadian refugees from a transit center across the river from NDjamena to a better equipped site some 30 kilometers to the west.


In response to a question on a bidders conference in Darfur, the United Nations will hold a mandatory Bidders Conference in Sudan for the multi-functional logistics contract, to support the UN/AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), from 17 to 22 February 2008.

This contract is being tendered in support of the Hybrid Package. It should be noted that the Secretariat has carried out a global sourcing for this tender, in the course of which over 1,000 companies worldwide and all Permanent Missions in New York were notified of this business opportunity. Upon performing due diligence, the Procurement Division selected 45 companies to participate in the Request for Proposal process.

Twenty-seven of these companies expressed the wish to participate in the conference.


Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro will travel to Bangkok, Thailand, over the weekend to chair the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Regional Coordination Meeting. This visit is part of her commitment to promote the regional dimension of the UNs development agenda.

While in Bangkok, the Deputy Secretary-General will meet with the Foreign Minister of Thailand as well as with representatives of ESCAP Member States. The Deputy Secretary-General will also meet with the UN staff.

She plans to be back in New York next Wednesday.


SECRETARY-GENERAL REACTS TO LATEST TENSIONS IN MIDDLE EAST: Asked about the Secretary-Generals reaction to the latest tensions between Israel and Lebanon, the Deputy Spokesperson said the Secretary-General was disturbed by cycle of violence and urged restraint by all. He felt that the killings and counter-killings must stop. Regarding the activities of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in relation to the tensions, UNIFIL had said it was adequately postured to implement its mandate under Security Council resolution 1701. UNIFIL continued to work closely with all parties whose continued commitment to the cessation of hostilities is key to the process, Okabe added.

CHANGES IN MANDATE OF UN MISSION IN TIMOR-LESTE WOULD HAVE TO BE DECIDED BY SECURITY COUNCIL: Asked about changes to the mandate of the UN Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), the Deputy Spokesperson said such changes would have to be decided by the Security Council. Asked about reports that UN Police (UNPOL) had failed to help the Timorese President when he was recently attacked, the Deputy Spokesperson, citing the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, said that, contrary to press reports, UNPOL, along with Timor-Lestes National Police, had responded immediately to a call that there was shooting near the President's residence at 7:00. Two UNPOL units arrived at the scene at 7:18. She noted that the President's residence was at least 15 minutes away from the police station and that international close protection had been removed at the President's direct request. Asked what the UN had done to protect the city of Dili itself, Okabe said UNMIT had been performing its functions in line within its mandate.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME LAUNCHES FOOD SECURITY MAP OF CAMBODIA: The World Food Programme (WFP) has launched an updated online food security map of Cambodia. The atlas identifies areas of vulnerability, as well as places where improvement has taken place or more intervention is needed. Meanwhile, in Colombia, WFP has teamed up with the Government on a $157 million project to provide food and other humanitarian aid to more than half a million displaced people over the next three years. It is the largest such programme ever developed by a UN agency in Colombia, according to WFP.


Monday, February 18

U.N. Headquarters in New York is closed for an official holiday (Presidents Day).

Today and tomorrow, the Deputy Secretary-General is in Bangkok, where she will chair the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Regional Coordination Meeting and meet with Thailands Foreign Minister, representatives of ESCAP Member States and UN staff.

Through 7 March in Geneva, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination holds its 72nd session.

Today and tomorrow in Manama, Bahrain, UN Country Teams in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar meet, in coordination with national authorities, to review their contingency plans regarding avian and pandemic influenza interventions.

Tuesday, February 19

This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution on the African Union Mission in Somalia, as well as hold a briefing and consultations on the U.N. Mission in Sudan.

At 3 p.m. in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber, the ECOSOC President holds informal consultations on the special high-level 24 April meeting with the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization and the UN Conference on Trade and Development.

The Secretary-Generals Personal Envoy for Greece and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Matthew Nimetz, will meet with the parties in Athens today for follow-up talks on the name issue and related themes.

Wednesday, February 20

General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim today begins a visit to Latin America, including Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Peru. His meetings with government officials and UN country team members will focus on the priority topics of the 62nd session, including climate change, financing for development, the Millennium Development Goals, and UN reform.

Today through Friday in Monaco, the 10th Special Session of the UN Environment Programmes Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum meets on Mobilizing Finance for the Climate Challenge.

Thursday, February 21

This morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold a debate and consultations on Timor-Leste.

From 12 to 1 p.m. in Conference Room D, there will be a briefing on the 2008 Secretary-General's Report to the Substantive Session of the Economic and Social Council.

Today is International Mother Language Day, as well as the start of the International Year of Languages. At UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, a special seminar, organized jointly with the Council of Europe, will examine legal instruments and linguistic policies.

Friday, February 22

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Conference Room C, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development briefs on its Information Economy Report 2007-2008.

From 1.15 to 2.30 p.m. in Conference Room 1, there will be an interactive panel on Just and favourable: Decent work as a human right in the age of globalization.

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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