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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-07-31
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: email@example.comARCHIVES
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ, ASSOCIATE SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Friday, July 31, 2009
BAN KI-MOON DEPLORES BAGHDAD BOMB ATTACKS
condemns in the strongest terms the bomb attacks on five Shia mosques in Baghdad today which have left dozens dead and wounded. Attacks against places of worship cannot be justified by any political or religious cause. These attacks appear to be aimed at provoking sectarian strife and undermining stability in
The Secretary-General appeals to the Iraqi people to remain steadfast in their efforts to resolve difference through dialogue and achieve national reconciliation. The United Nations is committed to helping the Iraqi people in this important endeavour.
SECRETARY-GENERAL REITERATES CALL FOR MYANMAR POLITICAL PRISONERS TO BE RELEASED
The Secretary-General on Thursday met with the Permanent Representative of Myanmar.
In the meeting, the Secretary-General reiterated his clear expectation and that of the international community, that the Government of Myanmar will give careful consideration to the implications of any verdict in the trial of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and exercise its responsibility to ensure her immediate release.
The Secretary-General also reiterated the international community's high expectations that the Government of Myanmar will act in Myanmar's interest by taking timely and positive steps in follow-up to the specific proposals which he made during his recent visit to Myanmar, starting with the release of all political prisoners.
After reporting the Secretary-Generals messages to his authorities, the Permanent Representative of Myanmar informed the United Nations that the verdict was being postponed.
REPORT: AFGHANISTAN CONFLICT TAKING INCREASINGLY HEAVY TOLL ON CIVILIANS
As the conflict in Afghanistan intensifies and spreads, it is taking an increasingly heavy toll on civilians, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a mid-year
report on the situation of civilians in armed conflict.
That report, compiled by UNAMA's Human Rights Unit, recorded 1,013 civilian deaths in the first six months of 2009 a 24 percent increase compared to the same period in 2008. Between January and June of this year, about 59 percent of civilian deaths were the responsibility of anti-government elements and 30.5 percent were the responsibility of pro-government forces.
The report adds that air strikes remain the largest cause of civilian deaths attributed to pro-government forces during the first six months of 2009, resulting in the reported deaths of 200 civilians. Meanwhile, some 400 casualties were the result of the indiscriminate use of improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks by anti-government elements.
U.N. AGENCIES HELP PAKISTANIS RETURNING TO THEIR HOMES
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that as of yesterday, more than 600,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northwest
Pakistan had left camps or other locations. That leaves some 1.6 million people who have not yet returned from displacement and who will continue to require humanitarian assistance. Also, even as people leave camps for the displaced, an additional 1,500 families have arrived at IDP camps in Jalozai and Familo since 3 July.
To assist the people who are returning to their homes, UNICEF has distributed 8,600 hygiene kits and 270,000 Aqua tabs, which can benefit approximately 60,000 returning persons. Health agencies have already sent necessary medicines and supplies to the district of Buner and Swat. They plan to support 14 public health facilities and 4 mobile clinics in Buner.
As of 26 July, 1,167 schools out of a total of 4,739 schools that were occupied by IDPs have been vacated, due to the rapid return of the displaced. OCHA says that getting all children back into learning environments, especially in time for the beginning of the new academic year, poses a massive challenge for the Pakistani Government and the humanitarian community. Schools being used as shelters must be repaired and equipped with new furniture and teaching and learning materials.
Asked about the movement of UN personnel from Balochistan, in western Pakistan, the Spokesperson acknowledged that the United Nations unfortunately did have to scale back it operations in Balochistan. He said that the United Nations did so with regret, especially because it was about to set in motion several programmes, including a couple of new projects related to agriculture, education and supporting womens issues.
Asked about threats from the Balochistan Liberation United Front, Haq said that the United Nations takes all threats against its staff very seriously and is looking into this particular case. He added that the United Nations continuously assesses the security situation and making adjustments to how we continue our operations.
NEPAL: U.N. ENVOY CONCERNED BY PEACE PROCESS FALLING BEHIND
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative in Nepal, Karin Landgren, in a
press conference today said it is a matter of urgent concern that the peace process that has fallen behind in Nepal.
She said the political leaders indicated that their focus in a mechanism for the peace process would include the new constitution. This is especially important in light of the consensus that will be needed on establishing Nepals new federal structure, she added.
Landgren also said that Nepals peace process has had many successes since its inception. It is critical that all parties show restraint in words and in actions, with strict adherence to the peace agreements, she stressed.
She also said that the UN Mission in Nepal will be doing all it can within its mandate to help the parties make progress in the peace process.
CONGOLESE CIVILIANS FLEE FIGHTING, REFUGEE AGENCY REPORTS
Civilians continue to flee
fighting in the South Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). UNHCR now estimates that 56,000 civilians have been displaced since 12 July. The agency says they are running from a Government military campaign against Rwandan rebels and allied groups. It had last week placed at 30,000 the number of civilians displaced by the military operation in the Ruzizi plain, near the border with Burundi.
UNHCR also reports that rebel attacks on civilians have continued despite the governments military presence, most recently on 29 July, when Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda rebels looted homes in a village whose only hospital was also ransacked. The widespread insecurity, UNHCR notes, is hampering the provision of humanitarian aid to those in need.
AID FLIGHTS COULD BE GROUNDED DUE TO FUNDING SHORTFALL
The World Food Programme (WFP)
says it could have to cut back its humanitarian air service in parts of Africa due to a dramatic shortage of funds. The UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), which is operated by WFP, carries aid workers to emergency operations where they provide vital assistance for hundreds of thousands of people. But
WFP warns that the air service to Chad will run out of funds by 15 August, and by 30 August for Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
In Chad, for example, an average of 4,000 humanitarian passengers fly on the air service each month to provide assistance to 250,000 Darfurian refugees and 180,000 internally displaced people in eastern Chad.
The Humanitarian Air Service operates in Chad, Sudan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, the Central African Republic, West Africa and Afghanistan, with a 2009 budget of $160 million. So far this year, the service has received less than $40 million in contributions.
PHILIPPINES: U.N. ENVOY WELCOMES STEPS TO PREVENT CHILD RECRUITMENT
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, has
welcomed the signature of an action plan by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the Philippines.
The action plan sets concrete and time-bound steps to prevent the recruitment and use of children and to separate any children who may be found among its forces. It also ensures unimpeded access to monitoring teams and provides for children to be reintegrated into civilian life.
The Special Representative said this signature showed that the protection of children is a priority beyond any political or other agenda. But she added, compliance will require close follow-up and the continuous support of the international community.
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL WRAPS UP SESSION, FOCUSES ON PUBLIC HEALTH
In Geneva today, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) wrapped up its work and
suspended its 2009 substantive session. The word suspended is being used since ECOSOC can choose to reconvene at any time during the year.
During this latest session, which lasted one month, ECOSOC focused on public health. Several initiatives were put forth to help meet global public health goals. Among other topics, ECOSOC also addressed the special concerns of countries emerging from conflict.
In concluding remarks, Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said the session clearly showed that ECOSOC provides a unique platform for weaving together the various strands of the development agenda for more effective implementation.
U.N. AGENCIES STRESS IMPORTANCE OF BREASTFEEDING
World Breastfeeding Week will start on Saturday. This years theme stresses the importance of breastfeeding as a life-saving intervention, especially during emergencies.
statement, World Health Organization Executive Director Margaret Chan says that, in all situations, the best way of preventing malnutrition and mortality among infants and young children is to ensure that they start breastfeeding within one hour of birth. She adds that they should breastfeed exclusively until six months of age and continue breastfeeding with complementary foods up to two years and beyond.
WHO also says that emergency preparedness plans should include the training of health workers to support mothers during emergencies.
Today in Nigeria, UNICEF Director General Ann Veneman also highlighted the importance of breastfeeding, saying it was an excellent source of nutrition for infants in emergency situations.
Veneman is in Nigeria for a four-day visit where she
launched the first ever National Child Health Week in that country. Child Health Week will support a package of high-impact, low-cost child survival interventions such as immunizations and the delivery of insecticide treated mosquito nets.
SECRETARY-GENERAL REITERATES CONFIDENCE IN SIX-PARTY TALKS
Asked about the Secretary-General
remarks to the press on Wednesday on the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General had said that he believes that six-party talks still can provide a good way for the solution through dialogue of the situation on the Korean peninsula.
At the same time, he had noted the willingness of the DPRK authorities to engage in direct dialogue with the United States; and he stressed that such willingness was important, since it is necessary to resolve the situation in a peaceful manner, through dialogue.
FALLING CEILING PLASTER AT U.N. HEADQUARTERS DID NOT CONTAIN ASBESTOS
In response to questions about an area at UN Headquarters that had briefly been blocked off from passage earlier this week, the Spokesperson noted that, a few days ago, in the third floor hallway of the Conference Building, approximately 10 square feet of gypsum plaster fell from the ceiling. This was caused by water leakage from the machine shop on the fourth floor as a result of condensation in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment on that floor.
Haq said that the gypsum plaster did not contain asbestos; the asbestos in that area had been abated some years earlier. The asbestos abatement consultant of the UN, ATC Associates, took samples which confirmed that the material that had fallen down was indeed free of asbestos.
On Thursday night, as a precaution, 150 square feet of original plaster containing asbestos were abated, because it had become wet and might fall in the future, he added. After taking the number of air samples prescribed by host country rules and regulations, ATC Associates declared early this morning that the third floor hallway met all applicable criteria for re-occupancy.
U.N. AWAITING ISRAELI REPLY ON MATERIALS PROPOSAL
Asked about reports that Israel might allow concrete and other reconstruction materials into Gaza, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations is not in a position at this time to confirm or deny the report.
The United Nations, he said, is still awaiting an official Israeli reply to its proposal for materials to be allowed in for a number of UN projects. The
Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, is scheduled to meet with Israeli authorities in the coming days to discuss the subject.
U.N. LAUNCHES COMPETITION FOR SHORT FILMS ON DISARMAMENT
The United Nations is launching on Saturday a competition for the best short film on the issue of nuclear disarmament and/or non-proliferation. This is part of the ongoing We must disarm campaign and of the 100-day countdown to the International Day of Peace on 21 September, launched by the Secretary-General on 13 June.
The UN is looking for short videos from anyone, regardless of skill or experience, to submit their work by Thursday, 10 September 2009.
Winning films will be shown at UN Headquarters in New York and posted on the online platforms supporting the Secretary-Generals campaign.
FEWER PRESS BRIEFINGS IN AUGUST: Over the month of August, the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General will provide noon briefings three days out of every week namely, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, briefings will not take place. If events require otherwise, the Office might go back to daily briefings.
SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENCY PASSES TO UNITED KINGDOM: Today is the last day of Ugandas
Security Council Presidency. On Saturday, the United Kingdom will take over the rotating Presidency of the Security Council.
U.N. STILL SUPPORTING HONDURAS MEDIATION EFFORTS: Asked about recent comments by the Honduran parties, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations continues to support the mediation efforts by the President of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias, and hopes that the parties will continue to have a dialogue on the basis of the Arias plan.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
1 7 August 2009
Saturday, 1 August
Today, the United Kingdom will assume the monthly rotating Presidency of the Security Council.
World Breastfeeding Week will be celebrated from today to 7 August.
From today through 5 August, the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) will convene a workshop for former Somali senior military officials under the auspices of the Somali Ministry of Defense, in Washington DC.
Sunday, 2 August
There are no major events scheduled for today.
Monday, 3 August
The annual Heads of Military Components conference, organized by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) Office of Military Affairs, will take place take at UN Headquarters, from today until 7 August. At the event, Force Commanders and chief military officers from various peacekeeping missions will have an opportunity to share experiences and challenges with each other and with senior managers and staff from UN headquarters.
Starting today in Geneva, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will hold its seventy-fifth session. It will review anti-discrimination efforts undertaken by the Governments of Peru, United Arab Emirates, Poland, China, Greece, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Chile, Chad, the Philippines and Ethiopia. The session will run through 28 August.
The United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the rights of peoples to self-determination will hold a press conference today, at the United Nations offices in Washington DC. The experts will report on their fact-finding mission to the United States of America, held from 20 July to 3 August 2009.
Tuesday, 4 August
There will be no noon briefing by the Spokesperson today.
This morning the Security Council will hold consultations on its programme of work. In the afternoon, it is expected to hear a briefing and hold consultations on the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).
At 12.30 p.m. in Room-S226, Ambassador John Sawers, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom and President of the Security Council for August, will discuss the Councils programme of work for the month.
Wednesday 5 August
The Security Council is expected to hold a open debate on United Nations Peacekeeping Operations.
Thursday, 6 August
There will be no noon briefing by the Spokesperson today.
The Security Council is expected to hold an open debate on Women, Peace and Security. It is also expected to adopt a resolution on the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).
The Cyprus leaders will meet in Nicosia under UN auspices.
General Martin Luther Agwai and Lieutenant-General Babacar Gaye, Force Commanders of the peacekeeping missions in Darfur (UNAMID) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) respectively, will hold a press conference at 12 p.m. in Room-S226.
Friday, 7 August
Andrew Hughes, UN Police Advisor, and Ann-Marie Orler, Deputy UN Police Advisor, will be the guests at the noon briefing. They will present initiatives being undertaken by DPKOs Police Division calling for an increased representation of female police in peacekeeping operations and to encourage the recruitment of women in national police services. UN Police Officers from peacekeeping missions in Libera (UNMIL), Sudan (UNMIS) and Haiti (MINUSTAH) will also be present at the briefing.
This document is for planning purposes only and is current as of DATE \@ "HH:mm" 14:45 DATE \@ "dddd, dd MMMM, yyyy" Friday, 31 July, 2009.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
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