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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-02-25
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, February 25, 2008
BAN KI-MOON LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
This morning as part of the opening of the 52nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched his multi-year campaign to end violence against women.
Hundreds of people blew whistles in unison to signify the start of the campaign.
In his remarks to the Commission, the Secretary-General said that violence against women is an issue that cannot wait. He noted that statistics show at least one woman in three is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime.
While there is no blanket approach to this problem that works in all countries, there is one universal truth, he said: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable.
SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF U.N. MISSION IN TIMOR-LESTE
The Security Council met this morning to extend the mandate of the UN Mission in Timor-Leste by one year.
The Council also condemned in the strongest possible terms the attacks on the President and Prime-Minister of Timor-Leste on 11 February as an attack on the legitimate institutions of the country.
KENYA: RISK OF FRESH VIOLENCE IF NO QUICK RESOLUTION
The Security Council then heard a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes on his recent mission to Kenya.
In his remarks, Holmes said that, if there is no quick resolution to Kenyas political crisis, then the risk of a fresh surge in violence, more displacement and further polarization of society will be very high. The humanitarian consequences of this could dwarf anything we have seen so far, he added.
Holmes also briefed on his visits to camps for displaced persons in the Rift Valley Province. He said most of the basic humanitarian needs there have been reasonably met so far. But a good deal more needs to be done to consolidate sites, build new camps, and increase security and privacy, particularly for women, children and other vulnerable groups, he added. In that context, he mentioned disturbing accounts of continuing abuses in and around camps and dreadful stories of murder, of rape and burning.
Holmes added that it is clear that Kenyas displacement crisis will not disappear quickly even if there is a political agreement in the coming days.
Following the open briefing, Council members moved into consultations to continue with Holmes briefing and take up other matters.
Also on the Security Council, the Secretary-General today attended the monthly Security Council luncheon.
MAJOR STEP FORWARD IN NORTHERN UGANDA PEACE PROCESS
Former President Joaquim Chissano, the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for the Lords Resistance Army (LRA)-Affected areas, has reported another major step in the peace process for Northern Uganda, with the signing on Saturday of an agreement between the Government and the Lords Resistance Army on a Permanent Ceasefire.
This agreement is set to take effect just after the signing of a Final Peace Agreement.
Among its provisions, the agreement provides for the encampment of all forces of the LRA within the Ri-Kwang-Ba Assembly Area in Southern Sudan. It also envisions the establishment of a Cease-Fire Monitoring team composed of senior officers from the SPLA, representatives of both parties, delegates from the African Union countries who are acting as observers to the peace talks, and a liaison team from the United Nations.
In statements after signing the agreement on behalf of the United Nations, President Chissano hailed its importance as the formal end of the armed conflict, fundamental for building peace in Uganda. He also cautioned that the absence of war should not be seen as the ultimate goal and he urged Ugandans to work tirelessly to ensure that peace becomes irreversible in their country.
Meanwhile, the talks continue to move forward in Juba.
We understand that the Parties have reached a consensus on a draft text on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration. The LRA delegation intends to consult its leadership this week, after which the talks are expected to resume. That would leave only a few more steps to the signing of a Final Peace Agreement, ending the conflict altogether.
Asked about objections by Human Rights Watch to the provisions in the Uganda agreement on war crimes, the Spokeswoman noted that the agreement envisions the establishment of national indictments. The United Nations, she said, stands by its position that it is for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to work with the national authorities on the indictments it has issued or will issue in the future. This is a question in the hands of the ICC.
She later added that the UNs position is that there should be no impunity, and that it is critical to achieve peace with justice in Northern Uganda. The agreements reached by the parties by establishing a national judicial process -- can provide for peace with justice as long as they are credibly implemented, as the Secretary-General has stated. The agreements provide for serious crimes to be adjudicated through a national trial in the Ugandan High Court.
She pointed out that these agreements also provide for reparations to war victims, the establishment of a truth-commission-style body and other measures to promote national reconciliation.
HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR DEMANDS ACCESS
TO CIVILIANS IN NEED OF ASSISTANCE IN WEST DARFUR
The Joint Special Representative for the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) Rodolphe Adada and UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Ameerah Haq, have drawn attention to the need to protect civilians following recent reports of aerial bombings in Western Darfur.
In a joint statement issued yesterday, they expressed their grave concern for the safety of thousands of civilians who are in the Jebel Moon area and appealed for an immediate halt to the fighting.
They said the eyes of the world are now on Darfur and the concerns of all of us have to be with the innocent children, women and men who are caught-up in the fighting.
The Humanitarian Coordinator emphasized the importance of unimpeded access to populations in need of humanitarian assistance, and reminded all parties of their responsibilities under International Humanitarian Law to protect civilians and to differentiate between civilian and military targets.
Meanwhile, the ban on all humanitarian flights to the north of El Geneina in West Darfur remained in place over the last week, leaving tens of thousands of conflict-affected people without humanitarian assistance.
Since 1 January, some 80,000 people have been newly displaced across Darfur, three quarters of them in West Darfur.
In addition to violence between the parties, food insecurity in certain areas due to bad crops, in combination with militia harassment, is a major cause for population movements to the camps housing displaced persons and presents a major challenge to aid agencies.
The hijackings in recent days of three vehicles -- two humanitarian and one UNAMID brought to 46 the number of such hijackings so far in 2008. This has led to considerable humanitarian access constraints, and more importantly to a significant reduction in the quality of humanitarian operations that need supervision and follow-up.
ERITREA: PEACEKEEPERS FUEL RESERVES GETTING SCARCE
The UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) says that the regrouping of UN peacekeepers and equipment in Asmara continued without restrictions today.
To date, seven out of 11 Team Sites in the Temporary Security Zone have been vacated and four of the 21 military observer posts have been closed.
The Mission notes that the pace of this temporary relocation is dependent on fuel reserves, which are running scarce. This may cause the Mission to leave container housing and storage facilities, along with some equipment, at observer posts, team sites and sector headquarters inside the Temporary Security Zone in the care of Eritrean authorities. In some locations, private security contractors are already providing protection for some UN materials.
The Mission expects that by the end of today, some 547 UN peacekeeping troops and 89 military observers will have relocated to Asmara. There are a total of 981 peacekeeping troops and 101 military observers in Eritrea.
MYANMAR: U.N. ENVOY MEETS SINGAPOREAN LEADERS
The Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on
Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, met today in Singapore with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Foreign Minister George Yeo.
They exchanged views on recent developments in Myanmar and on the way forward in the context of the UNs good offices in Myanmar.
Gambari expressed his appreciation for Singapores continued support to the efforts of the United Nations in this regard.
From Singapore, Gambari will travel tomorrow to Tokyo for further consultations.
TIMORESE FUGITIVE SURRENDERS
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative in Timor-Leste, Atul Khare, today announced the surrender of one of dead fugitive Alfredo Reinados men to the United Nations, and appealed to the remaining fugitive militiamen to submit to justice.
Khare, in a press conference, assured the remaining fugitives that the United Nations is working with the Government of Timor-Leste to ensure that their human rights would be upheld if they surrendered.
Khare also said that more than 300 petitioners, men and women, were currently gathered in Dili for a Government-led dialogue. He said he expected more to join the cantonment, with UN and Timorese police providing security and transport from the districts to the capital.
NEPAL: U.N. CONCERNED BY THREAT OF HARM
TO CHILDREN DURING PROTESTS
The UN Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) are increasingly concerned at the threat of harm to children in Nepal, with confirmed reports of children participating in violent protests.
A considerable number of children aged between 7 and 15 years old were seen demonstrating in various districts, armed with sticks, while the crowd that attached a group of Nepali Congress members in Darchula District on 5 February also reportedly included at least 100 children and students in school uniforms.
UNICEF and OHCHR urge all parties to respect the provisions of Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Nepal is a signatory, and to take all necessary measures to avoid exposing all children under the age of 18 to risk of harm.
Meanwhile, OHCHR is urging the Nepal Police and Armed Police Force to exercise restraint in response to protests, in the midst of growing violence in many parts of the Terai district, and is also calling protesting groups to use only peaceful means.
TOP U.N. OFFICIAL IN KOSOVO MEETS WITH SERBIAN MINISTER
Asked about UN involvement in the entry of Serbian Minister for Kosovo Slobodan Samardzic into Kosovo, the Spokeswoman noted that, under resolution 1244, the United Nations has authority at the entry points into Kosovo.
She said that the Secretary-Generals Special Representative in Kosovo, Joachim Rücker, met with the Minister today. Rücker allowed the Minister into Kosovo on the condition that he make a public statement, distancing himself from violence, which he did, Montas said.
In their meeting today, Rücker referred to the Ministers statement that destruction of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) customs premises in the North was unfortunate but legitimate. Rücker asked the Minister to publicly repudiate this statement.
Rücker made it very clear to the Minister that UNMIKs executive mandate must be respected, Montas added.
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME NOT PLANNING RATION CUTS
Asked about the World Food Programme (WFP)s response to rising food prices, the Spokeswoman clarified that WFP is not planning ration cuts or to reduce the number of people it feeds.
Instead, she said, WFP is doing everything possible to mobilize world attention and support through Governments, the private sector and individuals to stave off such a drastic measure.
This year, Montas said, WFP needs to feed 73 million in 78 countries. Food costs alone have gone up by 40% since mid 2007 when WFP originally prepared its appeal for 2008.
In addition to the $2.9 billion, estimated last year for the needs in 2008, WFP says it now needs at least half a billion dollars more, she added.
U.N. ENVOY IN CYPRUS WELCOMES NEW PRESIDENT
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Cyprus, Michael Moller, today
welcomed the Cypriot President-elects intention to move quickly to start talks with a view to reaching a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.
Moller looks forward to an early meeting of the leaders and stands ready to assist them.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL ADDRESSES PHILANTHROPY
Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro today is scheduled to address the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Special Event on Philanthropy.
In that statement, she talked about the ways in which the United Nations has been making a real effort in recent years to open its doors to more partners and more innovative partnerships. The special event is looking at how corporate philanthropy can advance the Millennium Development Goals.
NEW PROJECTS TO HELP CHILDREN IN DJIBOUTI: UNICEF and the charity Dubai Cares today launched several new education programmes to improve access to education for children and promote gender equality in Djibouti. Tens of thousands of school-age children in Djibouti are not enrolled in primary school; more than half of them are girls. Under the new partnership, UNICEF will use nearly $2 million in funds donated by Dubai Cares to build new schools and rehabilitate existing ones. It will also provide teacher training, as well as equipment, water and sanitation services.
BAN KI-MOON TO MEET JORDANIAN KING: In response to questions, the Spokeswoman confirmed that the Secretary-General will meet later this week with King Abdullah of Jordan.
SPOKESPERSON HAPPY THAT GAZA PROTEST REMAINED PEACEFUL: Asked about the human chain formed in Gaza today, the Spokeswoman expressed her gladness this was a peaceful march. She noted that the United Nations is working hard to try and improve the very difficult situation in Gaza.
STAFF SECURITY PANEL DETAILS TO BE ANNOUNCED: Asked about the panel headed by Lakhdar Brahimi on the safety and security of UN personnel and premises, the Spokeswoman said that there should be an announcement on that panel toward the end of this week.
**The guests at noon were Assistant Secretary-General Rachel Mayanja, Special Advisor on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, who will brief on the Secretary-Generals campaign to end violence against women. She was accompanied by Captain Aimable Mushabe, a Rwandan military officer implementing measures to protect women against violence; Todd Minerson, Executive Director of the White Ribbon campaign; and a survivor/victim of violence.
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