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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-02-29

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







Friday, February 29, 2008


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is traveling today to Texas, where, this afternoon, he will address the William Waldo Cameron Forum on Public Affairs at the George Bush Presidential Library, named after the first President Bush.

He will speak about the strong U.S.-U.N. relationship, saying that working together is in the best interest of the United States, of the United Nations and of the world. And he will highlight key concerns for the United Nations, including the situation in Darfur and climate change.

The Secretary-General will visit Geneva early next week, where he will address the new session of the Human Rights Council on Monday.


The regrouping of UN peacekeepers ahead of a temporary relocation out of Eritrea was again obstructed by Eritrean soldiers today in Senafe.

The latest obstruction has left 102 peacekeepers stranded inside the Temporary Security Zone and 21 vehicles sent to collect them unable to do so. Another 13 peacekeepers and eight UN vehicles were earlier today also stopped by Eritrean soldiers at the same checkpoint in Senafe.

Azouz Ennifar, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Ethiopia and Eritrea, was assured in a telephone conversation with Eritrean officials today, that there were no explicit instructions from the Eritrean Government to prevent UN peacekeepers from relocating.

Despite the obstructions, the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) says that only two UN camps remain to be vacated, with UN military headquarters near the town of Barentu now expected to be vacated by this Sunday.

Meanwhile, all military observers have now been accounted for, with 104 relocated to Asmara and another 11 awaiting further instructions in the port town of Assab.


The Deputy Special Representative for

Sudan, Ameerah Haq, traveled to West Darfur for the second time this week as part of an inter-agency mission to assess the humanitarian situation on the ground as the result of the recent hostilities, including bombings, attacks on civilians and ongoing displacement.

The mission visited Sileah yesterday and found the town empty, despite having a population of up to 20,000 people. Only around 300 people remained, mostly elderly citizens who could not flee. The town was attacked on 8 February. The scene at the local clinic was one of disarray where there had obviously been a thorough ransacking of the clinic and its equipment.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), meanwhile, says an additional 3,000 refugees from West Darfur have arrived in eastern Chad over the past week, bringing to more than 13,000 the number of Sudanese believed to have fled to the remote area since fighting erupted on February 8th.

A UNHCR team which reached the Birak area this week reported that the new arrivals fled the Jebel Moun region of West Darfur following repeated aerial and ground attacks by militia.

Another UNHCR mission that was scheduled to go to the Birak area today was cancelled due to inter-ethnic clashes.

Asked about a Human Rights Watch report criticizing the Security Council for what it called its silence on Darfur, the Spokeswoman said that was an issue for the Council members. She noted that the Secretary-General has spoken extensively about the violence in Darfur.


The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, Staffan de Mistura, today strongly condemned attacks targeting media representatives in that country, which he said could hurt press freedom and freedom of expression.

He extended his condolences following the death of journalist Shihab al-Tamimi, who was the victim of an assassination attempt last Saturday.

De Mistura expressed his solidarity with all Iraqi journalists. Given the courage consistently shown by so many of them, he is confident that this tragic event will not intimidate them from carrying out their work that is essential for the future of their country.


In Timor-Leste, five individuals wanted in connection with the activities of the late rebel commander Alfredo Reinado were handed over yesterday by the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) to United Nations police officers.

The UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) welcomed the arrest and detention of the five, who stood trial before the Dili District Court. The Court ordered that they be remanded in UN Police custody overnight and reappear again before the Court this morning.

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative in Timor-Leste, Atul Khare, stated that this process demonstrates again the national authorities commitment to the rule of law. He also communicated to Interim President de Araujo and to Prime Minister Gusmão his appreciation for the efforts of the PNTL, and all others involved in making this peaceful submission to justice possible.


The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) marked a historic occasion today, when Germany handed over the command of UNIFILs Maritime Task Force to the European Maritime Force, which is currently led by Italy.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano said, Thanks to the vigilant posture of the Maritime Task Force, the maritime front has been as calm as the sea today. He congratulated the Forces personnel for their commendable work over the past 14 months.

Asked about the deployment of U.S. aircraft carriers off the coast of Lebanon, the Spokeswoman said that UNIFIL has no specific information about this matter. UNIFIL was not informed about this deployment and it was not coordinated with UNIFIL in any way. Montas added that UNIFIL Maritime Task Force operations are continuing uninterrupted in close coordination with the Lebanese navy.


The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reports that one crossing was opened for fuel today, allowing 400,000 liters to enter into Gaza from Israel.

With todays opening, the electricity situation has returned to where it was last week, which still means power cuts of up to twelve hours a day in Gaza City and Central Gaza.

The three crossings that allow humanitarian and commercial goods into Gaza all stayed closed today.


The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

warns that the drought in the central part of Somalia is worsening. Severe water shortages and limited grazing for livestock are forcing many pastoralist families into destitution.

UNICEF and partners are helping out in the Galgaduud region, by providing water, constructing shallow wells and installing water pipes. Theyre also supporting health centres serving more than 20,000 children under five in the area.

OCHA notes that the humanitarian situation in the area is already overstressed by an influx of displaced persons from Mogadishu. And, following last weeks arrival of Ethiopian troops, two thirds of the residents of the town of Dhuusamarreeb have fled, fearing a possible confrontation with anti-government forces.



Afghanistans harshest winter in nearly 30 years has

devastated the countrys livestock sector, killing over 300,000 animals since late December and seriously hurting many Afghans livelihoods, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

For its part, FAO has distributed 20 tons of feed in Herat, one of the hardest-hit provinces, and is providing 60 tons of feed concentrate to the worst-hit farmers in Bamyan Province.

The UN agency is also seeking over $2 million to provide an additional 1,500 tons of feed, as well as vaccines, multi-vitamins and anti-parasitic treatment for the livestock of 50,000 vulnerable farming families.


Today is the last day of the Panamanian Presidency of the Security Council.

Starting tomorrow, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia will assume the Councils rotating Presidency for the month of March.

Council members yesterday afternoon held consultations on non-proliferation and discussed a draft resolution on Iran.


U.N. ENVOY EXPECTED TO TRAVEL TO MYANMAR NEXT WEEK: Asked whether the Secretary-General had been invited to visit

Myanmar, the Spokeswoman could not confirm that invitation. She said, however, that Special Adviser Ibrahim Gambari was returning to New York, and would brief the Secretary-General on Myanmar on Saturday. Gambari, Montas said, is expected to travel to Myanmar next week.

SERBIA LETTER RECEIVED: Asked about a letter from Serbia to the Secretary-General that protests the international steering group on Kosovo, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General had just received the letter. The steering group, she added, is not a UN body.

NO BURUNDI LETTER RECEIVED: Asked about a letter from opposition lawmakers in Burundi to the Secretary-General, the Spokeswoman said that the letter has not been received yet. She noted that, according to a report, the letter had gone to a UN representative in Bujumbura.

DELEGATES AT CONFERENCE UNDERWAY ACCREDITED THROUGH ECOSOC: Asked about the accreditations for delegates attending the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the Spokeswoman said that the non-governmental representatives attending the meeting are accredited through the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).


Saturday, March 1

Today is the first day of the Russian Federations Security Council presidency.

Sunday, March 2

From today through Friday at the Speke Resort in Kampala, Uganda, the Global Health Workforce Alliance, with support from the World Health Organization, convenes the First Global Forum on Human Resources for Health.

Monday, March 3

The Secretary-General begins a two-day trip to Geneva. Today, he addresses the opening of the Human Rights Councils seventh session (which runs through 28 March), as well as the UN Conference for Trade and Development.

At 10 a.m. in Conference Room 3, the General Assemblys Fifth Committee begins the first part of its resumed session.

At 11 a.m. in Room S-226, Ambassador Melvyn Levitsky of the International Narcotics Control Board presents the main findings of the Boards survey on the latest global drug control situation. [Please note: both the survey and the press conference are embargoed until 4 March, 8 p.m. NYT.]

From today through Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agencys Board of Governors meets in Vienna.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres begins an eight-day mission to Uganda and Tanzania to review implementation of UNHCRs programmes in those countries.

From today through 20 March, the UN Human Rights Councils Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Asma Jahangir, visits India at the invitation of the Government.

Tuesday, March 4

At 10 a.m., the General Assembly plenary meets to consider a draft resolution on the modalities, format and organization of next Septembers high-level meeting on Africas development needs.

At 10.30 a.m. in Room S-226, Joanne Sandler, Executive Director of UNIFEM; Reese Witherspoon, Actress and Avon Global Ambassador; and Andrea Jung, Chief Executive Officer of Avon Products Inc., announce a private-public partnership with Avon Inc. on ending violence against women and promoting womens economic empowerment.

At 11.30 a.m. in Room S-226, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of the Russian Federation briefs, in his capacity as Security Council President for March, on the Councils programme of work for the month.

From today through Friday in Addis Ababa, the Economic Commission for Africa organizes Science with Africa, a conference aimed at increasing the participation of African scientists in international research projects.

Wednesday, March 5

From 8.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. in Conference Room 7, the UN Global Compact Office hosts the inaugural working conference of the signatories to the CEO Water Mandate.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Conference Room 6, a seminar on Catalytic action for peacebuilding: Examples of the UN Peacebuilding Fund takes place.

The guest at the noon briefing, Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe, briefs on a new Standby-Team of mediation experts, coordinated by the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), who will be available to deploy quickly to peace talks and assist envoys in negotiations. Some team members and DPA mediation support unit staff are also expected to be on hand at the briefing.

Thursday, March 6

The Global Preparatory Meeting for the first Development Cooperation Forum and the second Annual Ministerial Review takes place, beginning at 10 a.m. in the Economic and Social Council Chamber.

From 10.15 a.m. to 12.15 p.m. in Conference Room 2, an observance of International Womens day (8 March) takes place. The Secretary-General is scheduled to address the high-level opening session, which will be followed by a panel discussion.

At 11 a.m. in Room S-226, Michael Adlerstein, Executive Director of the Capital Master Plan (CMP), provides updates on the CMP.

The guest at noon is Ms. Rachel Mayanja, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, who will be joined by speakers from this mornings International Womens Day panel.

From 1.15 to 2.45 p.m. in Conference Room 7, a UN University-UN midday forum discusses Religion in multilateralism: Dodging the pitfalls of extremism.

Today and tomorrow in the General Assembly Hall, the UN International School holds its 32nd Annual Conference on The Pursuit of Energy: A Catalyst for Conflict.

In Geneva, the International Labour Organization launches its report on global employment trends for women in 2008.

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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