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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-12-12
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARIE OKABE
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
IN VIDEO ADDRESS TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY, BAN KI-MOON SAYS
ALGERIA ATTACK WILL NOT DETER WORK OF UNITED NATIONS
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this morning spoke by video link to the General Assembly to express his shock and outrage at yesterdays attack on the UN offices in Algiers, which he called a despicable strike against individuals serving humanity's highest ideals under the UN banner.
He said that we are still counting the dead, tending to the wounded, and looking for the missing, and added, My heart goes out to the victims. Their sacrifice cannot and shall not be forgotten.
The Secretary-General called on the General Assembly to stand united, and he asserted, We must all condemn this deed, just as we must work, together, to bring its vile perpetrators to justice.
He also said that "our brave men and women continue their difficult and dangerous work, Our mission has been, and will always be, to help those most in need."
The General Assembly also paid a moment of silence in honor of those who died and were injured in the attack.
Yesterday we provided preliminary casualty figures, and we have available now a list of nine UN staff who are confirmed to have died in yesterdays car bomb attack and whose families have been notified. These include staff from the International Labour Organization, the UN Refugee Agency, the World Food Programme, the UN Development Programme, the UN Population Fund and the Department of Safety and Security.
Rescue efforts yesterday helped to remove two UN staff alive from the rubble, and both are now receiving medical treatment.
At this point, hopes for finding any more survivors in the rubble have dimmed, and the local authorities have started to use heavy machinery to clear the site.
The Secretary-General had noted that UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Kemal Dervis will arrive in Algeria today to determine how best to aid those injured in the attack and the families of the victims. In a
statement issued by UNDP, Dervis said that he hopes that, beyond the words of condemnation, the international community will appreciate the importance of concrete actions to support the United Nations and development and humanitarian workers.
Also, two stress counselors are arriving in the country this afternoon to assist those who have been traumatized by the bombing.
In response to questions about the number of casualties and those who are missing, the Spokeswoman said that there remain a number of staff who are missing. At this stage, she said, the focus is on confirming through identification who has died and ensuring that next of kin are notified. The current list of nine, she said, was of those people who have both been confirmed dead and have had their family notified.
Once further confirmations and notifications are made, she added, the list will be amended accordingly.
She stressed that the situation on the ground remains fluid and confusing, as search and rescue efforts have been conducted and bodies have been removed from the rubble.
Okabe noted that the UNs security office in Algiers had been destroyed in the bombing, but the Secretary-General had dispatched the top UN security official to Algeria, and security on the ground had been reinforced.
She said that he would first conduct a review of the security in Algiers and see what lessons can be drawn. Then we will work with the heads of agencies in the UN system and with members states to implement whatever recommendations that emerge.
Asked whether the Secretary-General would travel to Algeria, the Spokeswoman said that he had been following the situation in Algeria extremely closely, and had spoken to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and to the General Assembly on the matter.
She said he had sent a letter to all staff, and he had sent his senior most officials to the scene who would be reporting back to him about their findings and the Secretary-General would do what was in the best interest of his staff and organization.
SECRETARY-GENERAL EXPRESSES OUTRAGE
OVER LATEST TERROR ATTACK IN LEBANON
The Secretary-General was outraged by yet another terrorist attack in Lebanon that killed General François el-Hajj of the Lebanese Armed Forces and at least one of his bodyguards. The Secretary-General extends his sincere condolences to the families of those killed, the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Government of Lebanon.
The Secretary-General strongly condemns this act of violence and terror on the Lebanese Armed Forces, a symbol of Lebanon's sovereignty. He reiterates his position that this and previous attacks aimed at undermining Lebanon's sovereignty are unacceptable. It is imperative that the perpetrators of this heinous crime are brought to justice.
The Secretary-General calls on the Lebanese for calm and restraint at this critical juncture in their history. Their political leaders must exert every possible effort to resolve differences and arrive at a solution for an immediate presidential election, without conditionality, in accordance with constitutional rules.
SECURITY COUNCIL EXPRESSES DEEP CONCERN
OVER POSTPONEMENT OF LEBANESE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
The Security Council, in a Presidential Statement adopted yesterday evening, stressed its deep concern at the repeated postponements of the presidential election in Lebanon.
The Council reiterated its call for the holding, without delay, of a free and fair presidential election in conformity with Lebanese constitutional rules, without any foreign interference or influence, and with full respect for democratic institutions. It called upon all Lebanese political parties to continue to exercise restraint and to show responsibility with a view to preventing, through dialogue, further deterioration of the situation in Lebanon.
This afternoon, the Security Council will hold consultations on
Lebanon, to hear from the Secretary-Generals Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Geir Pedersen, and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet. They will brief Council members on the implementation of resolution 1701, concerning Lebanon; the Secretary-Generals most recent report on that subject came out at the end of last month.
SECRETARY-GENERAL IS DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT FIGHTING
IN EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the intense fighting in North Kivu in recent days which has caused further suffering of the civilian population. He is particularly troubled by reports of massive displacement and mistreatment of the population.
The United Nations, through the action of the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) known as MONUC, supports the Government of the DRC in its efforts to establish legitimate State authority in the eastern DRC, and to meet its commitments under the Nairobi Communiqué.
The Secretary-General calls on the Government of the DRC to take all measures necessary to protect civilians.
The United Nations is working closely with the Government of the DRC and with others to help bring peace security and stability to this troubled region.
The Secretary-General calls on the forces of Laurent Nkunda to lay down their arms.
DR CONGO: U.N. PEACEKEEPERS HOLD NORTH KIVU TOWN
William Lacy Swing, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, confirmed in a statement today that the town of Sake in the North Kivu province remains under the control of UN Peacekeepers.
Swing said that the 4,500 UN Peacekeepers deployed in the region will do everything within their powers to prevent rebels led by General Laurent Nkunda from an advancing on the towns of Goma and Sake in the eastern DRC.
He added that UN Peacekeepers will continue to support the Congolese Army and protect civilians, whom he advised to stay calm.
Meanwhile, the UN Mission (MONUC) says that peacekeepers have conducted 33 reconnaissance missions, airlifted 25 tons of provisions for the Congolese Army, and evacuated more than 150 wounded soldiers.
In the light of the rebel advance, the Mission also expressed grave concern about the safety of women and young girls in North Kivu, noting that some 2,700 cases of rape have been recorded between January and October 2007 in North Kivu alone.
NORTH KIVU TOPS LIST OF HUMANITARIAN NEEDS FOR DR CONGO
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says it is concerned about reports of displacement there. This week alone, an estimated 60-70,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are reported to be on the move again, this time fleeing from camps toward the provincial capital Goma.
Currently, all humanitarian movements outside of Goma are proceeding only under the UN Missions escort. OCHA reports that several humanitarian organizations have temporarily withdrawn their staff from areas close to clashes and that most aid convoy activities have had to be postponed.
Protection of civilians is of particular concern at this time. This week, a UN inter-agency mission went to the area and is currently preparing recommendations on how best to ensure the immediate protection of IDPs and local populations.
UNICEF deposited several thousand basic supply kits in zones that might soon become inaccessible due to the fighting.
And the World Food Programme is distributing food to 3,000 IDP families in the Kibumba camp; a further 10,000 IDP families will be helped this week.
According to the 2008 Humanitarian Action Plan for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was launched yesterday by the UN, nearly 30% of the requested $575 million is needed just for North Kivu.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR RESTRAINT IN GEORGIAN-ABKHAZ CONFLICT
The Secretary-General has taken note of the concerns expressed by the two sides to the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict and allegations made by both sides about impending threats and major build-up of armed forces in the zone of conflict and the Kodori valley.
UNOMIG (UN Observer Mission in Georgia) has been conducting daily verification of these claims, many of which have, so far, not been confirmed by the situation on the ground.
In the current volatile context, the Secretary-General calls for calm and restraint.
He supports the call made by the Security Council in its resolution 1781 (2007) of 15 October, which strongly urges all parties to consider and address seriously each others legitimate security concerns, to refrain from any acts of violence and provocation, including political action or rhetoric, and to comply fully with previous agreements regarding ceasefire and non-use of violence.
BAN KI-MOON CALLS CLIMATE CHANGE
THE MORAL CHALLENGE OF OUR GENERATION
Turning to the climate change conference in Bali, the Secretary-General addressed the high-level segment, which began today. He told the six heads of state and 144 government representatives gathered there that climate change is the moral challenge of our generation, and that the eyes of the world are upon us to do something about it.
The Secretary-general said he was encouraged by progress in the negotiations so far, including agreements on adaptation, deforestation and technology, and called for the adoption of an agenda, with a roadmap and time-line, for reaching a deal by 2009.
Answering questions from the media later, the Secretary-General said that it might be too ambitious to expect delegations to reach an agreement on emissions targets while at Bali, but he stressed the importance of launching an urgent negotiating process.
Meanwhile, the U.N. Environment Programme has
announced that the greenhouse gas emissions linked with travel to and from the event by all UN staffers, including the Secretary-General and his team, will be offset through investment the Kyoto Protocols soon-to-be operational adaptation fund. The fund will help developing countries cope with the impacts of climate change.
Asked about the Secretary-Generals comments on climate change targets, the Spokeswoman reiterated the Secretary-Generals view that it might be too ambitious to reach an agreement while at Bali. What he had stressed was the importance of launching an urgent negotiating process, she said.
Asked whether the Secretary-General would travel back to New York from Asia to attend a concert, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General has a strong work ethic and honors his commitments, and he would keep the appointment that he has made.
SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON DRUG THREATS TO GUINEA-BISSAU
This morning, the Security Council held consultations on Guinea-Bissau, on which it heard briefings from Shola Omoregie, the head of the UN Office in that country, and from Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, who discussed recent developments there.
Costa provided evidence to the Council of the threat that cocaine trafficking is posing to stability and development in West Africa, and he warned that the 33 tons of cocaine seized in West Africa since 2005 may only be the tip of the iceberg.
U.N. ENVOY TO BEGIN TALKS ON PEACE PROCESS FOR NORTHERN UGANDA
The Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Lords Resistance Army (LRA)-affected areas, former President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, is arriving in Kampala today to begin a week of consultations intended to facilitate the peace process for Northern Uganda as it heads into a critical stage.
Chissano intends to meet with heads of state in Kampala, Kinshasa and Kigali before traveling to Juba for consultations with the mediation team of the Government of Southern Sudan, and then on to meetings with the LRA leadership and civil society representatives. He is expected to be in the region until 18 December.
U.N. ENVOY HOPEFUL THAT DARFUR PEACE TALKS CAN PICK UP SPEED
The Special Envoy for the
Darfur peace process, Jan Eliasson, has told a press conference in Khartoum that he hopes to try to speed up the momentum of the talks in the weeks to come.
He noted that the Security Council, the Regional Countries, the Government of Sudan and the Movements all have to pull in the same direction.
Eliasson added that we have now an improved climate in the Security Council; we have the growing cooperation of the regional countries and now the big question mark is how the Government of Sudan and the Movements will move in the same directions with the talks.
That is the crucial issue, he said. We will do our very best to bring that about but the environment in some regards not conducive, and I hope that the Government of Sudan and the Movements will take the responsibility to prepare for the talks to begin as soon as possible in the New Year, Eliasson told reporters yesterday in Khartoum.
RESETTLEMENT REFERRALS OF IRAQI REFUGEES EXCEEDS 20,000
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that it has exceeded its target of 20,000 Iraqi refugee resettlement referrals for 2007.
Specifically, it says it has transferred the files of 20,472 of the most vulnerable Iraqi refugees for consideration by 16 resettlement countries.
Nevertheless, UNHCR says it is extremely concerned about the low rate of actual departures. So far, only 22 percent of the total referred cases have actually left for resettlement countries.
U.N. TRIBUNAL FOR EX-YUGOSLAVIA SENTENCES
GENERAL WHO LED SIEGE ON SARAJEVO
The International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia today sentenced Dragomir Miloević, a former Bosnian Serb Army general, to 33 years in prison.
He was found guilty of crimes against humanity and violation of the laws or customs of war, in addition to crimes against civilians committed in the final months of the 1992-1995 siege of Sarajevo.
Miloević was originally convicted on 5 counts of terror, murder and inhumane acts conducted during a campaign of sniping and shelling resulting in the injury and death of civilians in Sarajevo. He also faced 2 counts of unlawful attacks against civilians, which were eventually dismissed.
And yesterday, the Tribunals Appeals Chamber granted Veselin ljivančanin provisional release pending the hearing of his appeal. The accused is a former senior officer of the Yugoslav Peoples Army who was convicted of aiding and abetting torture and was sentenced to 5 in prison in September 2007.
Also yesterday, the Tribunal granted provisional release for 10 days on compassionate grounds to Vinko Pandurević, a former Lieutenant Colonel in the Bosnian Serb Army. The accused is expected to attend a memorial service for his father and will reappear in the Hague court, at the latest, on January 8th.
PEACEBUILDING COMMISSION ADDS GUINEA-BISSAU TO AGENDA
This morning, the Peacebuilding Commission approved the Sierra Leone Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework. This landmark, three-year compact between the Commission and Sierra Leones Government outlines peacebuilding priorities and commitments, such as good governance, security and justice sector reform, youth employment, and energy sector development.
Meanwhile, the Security Council yesterday referred the situation in Guinea-Bissau to the Peacebuilding Commission. Guinea-Bissau is the third country to be placed on the Commissions agenda, following Sierra Leone and Burundi.
U.N. BUDGET SUBJECT TO NEGOTIATIONS AMONG MEMBER STATES
In response to a question yesterday about budget discussions in the General Assemblys Fifth Committee, approval of the organizations budget is the prerogative of Member States. It is a result of a negotiation process, where different Member States come with different proposals and the general practice is to approve the budget by consensus.
The Secretary-General has put forward a budget in line with the guidance provided by Member States in the budget outline approved last year, but is also submitting a number of reports in response to requests notably from earlier reform/outcome summit decisions.
The Fifth Committee is currently seized with these proposals. The Secretariat will continue to assist Member States in their deliberations and in servicing decisions from other legislative bodies and committees and the Security Council.
U.N. PEACE COORDINATOR CONCERNED ABOUT ISRAELI INCURSION INTO GAZA: Asked about the Israeli incursion into Gaza on Tuesday, the Spokeswoman said that the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process says it is concerned by the escalation in violence, the potential for further loss of life, and the worsening of an already worrying situation in Gaza and Southern Israel.
HEAD OF CAPITAL MASTER PLAN TO BRIEF ON MONDAY: In response to questions on the Capital Master Plan, the Spokeswoman noted that the Executive Director of the UN office for the Plan would brief the press next Monday.
SECRETARY-GENERAL IS NOT COMMENTING ON KOSOVO REPORT BEFORE SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING: Asked about comments from the Russian Foreign Minister concerning Kosovo, the Spokeswoman noted that the Secretary-General had transmitted the Contact Groups report on Kosovo to the Security Council, and would not comment until the Council takes up that report next week. The Secretary-General would attend that meeting
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