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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-12-30

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






Tuesday, December 30, 2008

There was no noon briefing today.

A briefing on Gaza is scheduled for noon tomorrow with John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, and by video-link from Gaza, Karen AbuZayd, Commissioner-General of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held a teleconference this morning on the situation in Gaza with the principals of the Middle East Quartet.

According to a read-out of the teleconference, "the Quartet principals held a conference call on December 30, 2008 on the situation in Gaza and southern Israel. They called for an immediate ceasefire that would be fully respected. They called on all parties to address the serious humanitarian and economic needs in Gaza and to take necessary measures to ensure the continuous provision of humanitarian supplies. They agreed on the urgent need for Israelis and Palestinians to continue on the road to peace. They intend to remain in close touch."

Participating in the teleconference were United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union Javier Solana, European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, and Quartet Representative Tony Blair.

Meanwhile, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza was partially open today for mainly humanitarian supplies. All other crossings, including the grains conveyor belt at Karni and the Nahal Oz fuel pipelines, remain closed.

The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reports that a total of 90 truckloads, including 53 for aid agencies, were allowed to enter Gaza through Kerem Shalom today. Included were 15 trucks of flour for the World Food Programme (WFP) and 22 of food and medical supplies for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

OCHA adds that, at 3:00 this morning, the Gaza power plant was forced to turn its one operating turbine off due to the lack of fuel. As a result, more than 650,000 people in Central and Northern Gaza, including Gaza City, are currently experiencing power cuts lasting 16 hours per day.

Yesterday, a total of 55 truckloads, including 28 for humanitarian aid agencies and five ambulances, were allowed entry into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing. The 55 trucks included 15 of flour for WFP, as well as 9 of rice and 4 of medical supplies for UNRWA.

But OCHA also reports that, since 26 December, no type of fuel or wheat has entered Gaza.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has

urged Israel to ensure the immediate provision of fuel and critical life-saving and trauma care supplies. The agency notes that there are continuing shortages of drugs and medical equipment in Gaza hospitals. According to WHO, hundreds of wounded people, including women, children and the elderly, lie in hospitals that already lack basic supplies.

WHO has secured, in collaboration with several Member States, the dispatch of medical kits to cover surgical and trauma interventions. WHO is following up with the Palestinian and Israeli authorities to ensure that health relief supplies, including the medical kits already on hand, reach those who need them.


The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest possible terms the appalling atrocities reportedly committed by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in recent days in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and southern Sudan, as well as all other attacks committed by the LRA.

The Secretary-General demands that the LRA respect all rules of international humanitarian law.

The Secretary-General recalls the

Security Councils Presidential Statement by which the Council welcomed the joint measures taken by Uganda, DRC and southern Sudan to address the security threat posed by the LRA. He underlines the Councils call on the involved security forces to ensure that all actions are carried out in accordance with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law. He also underscores the Councils call on Uganda, DRC and southern Sudan to take all appropriate measures to protect civilians.

He urges the forces of Uganda, DRC and southern Sudan on the ground to coordinate with the humanitarian community and the United Nations Missions in the region to ensure the effective delivery of assistance to those affected by the LRA attacks.


The Secretary-General, in a statement, took note of the decisions of the African Union Peace and Security Council on 22 December 2008 to extend the mandate of AMISOM for an additional two months.

He commends the dedication and courage shown by AMISOM personnel in providing security and humanitarian relief in Somalia, despite the numerous challenges. He is encouraged by the readiness of the Governments of Uganda and Burundi to contribute one additional battalion each, and the pledge by Nigeria to deploy a battalion.

The Secretary-General reiterates his call upon Member States to provide financial and logistical support to the existing AMISOM troops in Somalia, and for the deployment of additional contingents.

The Secretary-General reaffirms his full support for the Djibouti Agreement of 19 August 2008. He calls upon all parties that have not yet done so to join the Djibouti peace process.


In its latest update on the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that the death toll now stands at 1,608, with more than 30,000 cases reported.

In recent days, the World Health Organization (WHO) has set up a response team, comprised of an environmental health officer, epidemiologists and data managers.

It is also in the process of setting up a Cholera Command and Control Centre. For its part, UNICEF has airlifted or trucked in from South Africa additional supplies, including medication, intravenous fluids, oral rehydration salts, medical tubing, and midwifery and obstetric kits.


For the first time, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has reached its $450 million annual funding target. In 2008, 81 Member States and several private donors contributed a total of $452.5 million to CERF.

The largest contributors were the United Kingdom, ($80 million), the Netherlands ($64 million), Sweden ($56 million), Norway ($55 million) and Spain ($44 million). The largest private contributor was the professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers ($500,000).

CERF was created by the U.N. General Assembly in 2006 to help people affected by sudden-onset disasters and neglected emergencies in a fast, reliable and impartial manner. Since its inception, the Fund has disbursed $1.1 billion to emergency programmes in 67 countries.


U.N.-SUPPORTED BLOG LAUNCHED ON IRAQI ELECTIONS: A new United Nations-supported blog site just launched in Baghdad is the latest initiative to engage voters in the nascent democracy and motivate them to go to the polls on 31 January 2009 during the countrys provincial elections. The blog, called Vote for Iraq, was launched with the support of the UN-led International Election Assistance Team (IEAT).

U.N. AGENCIES LAUNCH LIFE-SAVING CAMPAIGN IN SOMALIA: UNICEF and the World Health Organization have launched a preventive care campaign to improve the survival rates of Somali children, as well as protect them and their mothers against preventable diseases. Child Health Days are aimed at 1.5 million children under the age of five and women of child-bearing age across Somalia. The campaign will include immunizations, de-worming, Vitamin A supplementation, nutritional assessments, and the distribution of oral rehydration salts and water purification tablets.

FIRST COMPREHENSIVE DATABASE ON GLOBAL HOMICIDE RATES PUBLISHED: In a first-ever attempt to assemble a comprehensive collection of international homicide statistics, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime has

published a database with information on homicide rates from 198 countries and territories. According to the data, Southern Africa, Central America, and South America are the three sub-regions with the highest rates; West and Central Europe, East-Asia, and South-east Europe have the lowest homicide rates. UNODC notes, however, that caution should be used in making comparative analysis based on the statistics gathered, as there are varying legal definitions of homicide among countries, as well as differences in case recording.

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055

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