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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-02-28

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY

MICHELE MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, February 28, 2008

BAN KI-MOON WELCOMES BREAKTHROUGH IN KENYAN CRISIS TALKS

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warmly welcomes the "Agreement on the Principles of Partnership of the Coalition Government announced in Nairobi today. The "Acting Together for Kenya" agreement marks a breakthrough toward resolving the crisis and gives hope to the people of Kenya for a return to democratic stability in their country.

He commends President Mwai Kibaki and Mr. Raila Odinga, for the spirit of compromise they demonstrated in reaching this accord. He also congratulates Kofi Annan and the Panel of Eminent African Personalities for their pivotal contribution in the mediation.

Moving ahead, the focus must be on implementing the agreements reached thus far and coming to further accord on the longer-term issues which this crisis have brought to the forefront in Kenya.

Every effort should be made to involve the people of Kenya at all levels in the process. Even as todays agreements are celebrated, urgent attention is also still required to lessen tensions in the communities and to overcome the serious humanitarian situation in the country.

SECURITY COUNCIL TO DISCUSS NON-PROLIFERATION THIS AFTERNOON

The Security Council has scheduled consultations on non-proliferation at 4:30 this afternoon.

HEAD OF SAFETY AND SECURITY PANEL APPOINTS NEW MEMBERS

Lakhdar Brahimi, the chair of the Independent Panel on Safety and Security of UN Personnel and Premises, today announced five other members of the panel that he leads. They are: Elsayed Ibrahim Elsayed Mohamed Elhabbal of Egypt; Anil Kumar Gupta of India; Umit Pamir of Turkey; Thomas Boy Sibande of South Africa; and Margareta Wahlstrom of Sweden.

Brahimi said that the panel would take a critical look at the security situation for the United Nations, prompted by the 11 December attack last year in Algiers, and that it would examine the current and potential capability to provide safety and security for UN staff and premises worldwide.

Asked whether there would be a seventh member of the panel, and whether the panel would include a UN staff representative, the Spokeswoman said those were issues for Brahimi to decide, in consultation with the Secretary-General.

Asked about Brahimis qualifications to head the panel, Montas said that Brahimi has had a distinguished career at the United Nations and has authored a number of major UN reports.

She later added that he had served with distinction as head of the Independent panel established to review United Nations peace operations. The report, released by the panel in 2000 and known as the "Brahimi Report", assessed the shortcomings of the existing system of peacekeeping and made specific recommendations for change, focusing on politics, strategy and operational and organizational areas of need.

She said that the Secretary-General thinks that Brahimi can certainly be an objective observer and is well qualified to lead the panel.

BAN KI-MOON IS DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT ESCALATING VIOLENCE IN SOUTHERN ISRAEL AND GAZA

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned at the loss of civilian life in Southern Israel and Gaza, and at the escalation of violence that has taken place.

The Secretary-General condemns rocket fire against Israel by Hamas, which intensified yesterday and killed an Israeli civilian in Sederot. He calls on Hamas and other militant groups to cease such acts of terrorism.

The Secretary-General also condemns the killing of four Palestinian children, including an infant, in Gaza in IDF strikes. He calls on Israel to exercise maximum restraint and ensure respect for international humanitarian law so as not to endanger civilians.

These events underscore the urgent need for a calming of violence, and must not be allowed to deter the continuation of the political process.

And regarding the infant who was killed, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA, has confirmed that the 6-month-old baby was killed in an UNRWA school compound, which is near where yesterdays military strike took place. The infant was the grandchild of the schools guard, who lives at the compound and is tasked with keeping the school free from militants.

In addition to condemning the killing of the baby, UNRWA deplores any violence that puts its schools and other facilities at risk.

GAZAS FUEL RESOURCES ARE RUNNING SCARCE

The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, or UNSCO, says it is closely watching the fuel situation in Gaza. According to UNSCO, Gazas power plant may have to shut down one of its two turbines tomorrow morning if the crossing that allows fuel from Israel into Gaza remains closed.

Although some areas of central Gaza have already been experiencing power cuts of approximately eight to twelve hours a day, a turbine shutdown could cause cuts of as much as 20 hours a day.

UNSCO says this latest situation shows the precariousness of the lack of fuel reserves.

In response to questions alleging that the statement on the violence had been unbalanced, the Spokeswoman said that the statement stands for itself.

Asked about targeted assassinations, she said that the Secretary-General had spoken on that topic in the past.

REGROUPING OF U.N. PEACEKEEPERS CONTINUES IN ERITREA

Regrouping continues for UN peacekeepers in Asmara, with noted progress in the relocation from 33 deployment sites in the Temporary Security Zone to Asmara and Assab.

Thats according to the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), which adds that to date, 788 out of a total of 1,115 military personnel have regrouped in Asmara while 112 have gathered in Assab.

The Mission continues to encounter obstructions at the Senafe checkpoint where Eritrean soldiers are turning back some UN convoys. In the past 24 hours, seven UN posts inside the Temporary Security Zone were vacated and taken over by Eritrean militia, police and army personnel.

At Camp Dunn, also in Temporary Security Zone, some 100 people entered the site after cutting the perimeter fence. UN peacekeepers and Eritrean police were able to contain the situation. But early today, another group of local people again attempted to force their way into the camp, but were stopped by UN peacekeepers and local police, who detained several of them.

U.N. REPRESENTATIVE FOR SOMALIA ADDRESSES PARLIAMENT

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, is about to wrap up a three-day visit to that country.

Today Ould-Abdallah is in Baidoa, the seat of government in the south west, and he has already held talks with the President, the Prime Minister and the Speaker of Parliament. He briefed them on his contacts with international partners and his efforts to garner support for the transitional federal institutions. He later addressed the Somali parliament.

Yesterday, he was in the northeastern town of Bossasso where he visited the new airport and seaport, and held discussions with local authorities. Ould-Abdallah also visited the northern town of Garowe and met there with the town leadership and representatives of civil society and the local members of the national parliament.

SPECIAL ADVISOR ON MYANMAR COMPLETES VISIT TO JAPAN

The Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, completed his consultations in Tokyo today, where he met with Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura and other senior officials.

Gambaris discussions in Tokyo focused on Japan's support to the Secretary-Generals good offices, including ways to help Myanmar address socio-economic and humanitarian challenges.

The Special Adviser plans now to return to New York by the weekend before heading to Myanmar next week. Exact dates for that visit are being finalized.

U.N. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR NEPAL HAILS AGREEMENT BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND MADHESI FRONT

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Nepal, Ian Martin,

welcomes todays agreement between the Seven-Party Alliance Government and the leadership of the United Democratic Madhesi Front.

Martin told a press conference that the implementation of the agreement - which meets key demands of the Madhesi movement and calls an end to the 16-day shutdown of Nepals southern plains - will be an important contribution to the election of an inclusive Constituent Assembly in a conducive climate.

The eight-point deal includes a provision which will allow for an increase in Madhesi candidates in many party lists. It also stated that the 16-day Terai shutdown, which caused numerous deaths and injuries as well as crippled supplies to the capital, would be ended immediately.

HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

WELCOMES RELEASE OF HOSTAGES IN COLUMBIA

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, expressed relief and satisfaction at the release, on 27 February, of four former Colombian parliamentarians, Ms. Gloria Polanco de Lozada, Mr. Luis Eladio Pérez, Mr. Jorge Eduardo Gechem and Mr.Orlando Beltrán. They had been held hostage by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia Peoples Army (FARC-EP) for more than six years.

"All hostages held in Colombia must be released immediately and unconditionally", urged the High Commissioner, reiterating a call she has made before.

"Taking hostages is forbidden by international humanitarian law", said the High Commissioner, adding that "the illegal armed groups of Colombia must stop committing the crime of kidnapping."

RIGHTS CHIEF REMAINS CONCERNED DESPITE PROGRESS IN GEORGIA

High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour has wrapped up a three-day visit to Georgia, where she met with President Mikheil Saakashvili, key ministers, the Ombudsman and representatives of civil society. She also met with local leaders and members of civil society in the Abkhazia region.

Arbour said that, while she has seen with her own eyes the progress Georgia has made in a variety of areas, she still has a number of concerns about the treatment of detainees, the living conditions of many of the countrys internally displaced people and the lingering lack of public trust in Georgias judicial system.

CONVICTED GENOCIDE SUSPECT TO SERVE REMAINDER OF SENTENCE IN ITALY

Georges Omar Ruggiu, a Belgian citizen sentenced by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for his role in the 1994 genocide, was today surrendered to Italian law enforcement officials. He will be transferred by special flight to Italy where he is to serve the remainder of his 12-year sentence.

Ruggiu was a journalist at Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines, whose broadcast have been proved to have encouraged the killing mobs during the 1994 genocide.

Rigguis transfer to Italy comes as a result of a March 2004 agreement on enforcement of sentences between that country and the UN.

U.N. SOUNDS ALARM AT RISING HOMOPHOBIA AND ATTACKS

ON HIV-POSITIVE PEOPLE

UNAIDS and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have issued a

statement, expressing alarm at recent reports of human rights violations committed against people on the basis of their sexual orientation and their actual or presumed HIV status.

Where it exists, homophobia fuels the HIV epidemic, and must be addressed as a key part of national HIV responses, according to the two UN bodies.

Experience has shown that effective responses to HIV are those based on respect for human rights, tolerance, and unimpeded access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

SECRETARY-GENERAL LAUDS ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF DECOLONIZATION EFFORT

The Secretary-General this morning addressed the opening of the 2008 session of the Special Committee on Decolonization, telling them that, over the last six decades, decolonization has transformed the membership of the United Nations.

Facilitating this process constitutes one of the proudest chapters of the United Nations history, he said.

The Secretary-General added that there are 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories remaining on the agenda of the United Nations. Until their status is satisfactorily resolved, the ideals of the General Assembly Declaration on Decolonization will remain unfulfilled.

Indonesia was elected to chair the Special Committee.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

BAN KI-MOON DID NOT SEND LETTER TO E.U. ON TRANSFER OF AUTHORITY IN KOSOVO: The Spokeswoman denied a report that claimed that the Secretary-General had sent a letter to the European Union concerning complaints about a transfer from the UN Mission in Kosovo to a European Union mission. There is no such letter, Montas said.

ZOES ARK NOT UNDER U.N. INVESTIGATION: Asked about the investigation into the activities of the Zoes Ark group in Chad, the Spokeswoman said that was not a UN investigation. UN agencies, including UNICEF, were involved in looking after the welfare of the children affected in that case, she said.

BAN KI-MOON TO DISCUSS SUICIDE BOMBING WITH GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT: Asked about a request from the Simon Wiesenthal Center for UN action against suicide bombing, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General would speak to the President of the General Assembly on this matter, which is for the General Assembly to consider.

REFUGEE AGENCY SEEKS FUNDS TO HELP DISPLACED SRI LANKANS: The UN refugee agency is appealing for $18.6 million to provide assistance to an estimated half a million internally displaced persons in Sri Lanka during 2008. The money - part of the Sri Lanka Common Humanitarian Action Plan - will go towards the protection of the displaced, returnees and other populations affected by the armed conflict. It will also be used to provide shelter, non-food relief items and camp management.

RENEWABLE ENERGY NOW A MAJOR PART OF GLOBAL ENERGY SECTOR: Renewable energy is growing rapidly to become a major part of the global energy sector. Thats according to a new report by the Renewable Energy Network for the 21st Century and the Worldwatch Institute. According to the report, the generating capacity of renewable energy has doubled since 2004. It now represents five percent of global power capacity and accounts for 2.4 million jobs. Wind power is largest component, but the fastest growing sector is solar energy, which increased by more than 50 percent last year.

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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