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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

SPOKESPERSON’S DAILY HIGHLIGHTS

BY EDUARDO DEL BUEY, DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

FRIDAY, 13 JANUARY 2012

MYANMAR: SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS

  • In a statement, the Secretary-General warmly welcomes the long-awaited release of political prisoners in Myanmar today.  This is the most significant release of political prisoners to date and includes a number of key, prominent figures.  The Secretary-General commends the Myanmar leadership for this important development and hopes that all those released will now be able to freely contribute to the process of national reconciliation, as well as to the strengthening of democracy and the rule of law within Myanmar.  

  • The Secretary-General has also noted the important efforts being made by the Myanmar authorities for renewed peace with the armed ethnic groups including yesterday’s preliminary ceasefire between the authorities and the Karen National Union as well as the initial peace agreements with other groups.  He welcomes these efforts and encourages all concerned to build on recent progress and to work, through an all-inclusive dialogue, for an end to hostilities throughout the country, national reconciliation, stability and development for all the people of Myanmar

  • The Secretary-General also calls upon the international community to respond to these important developments within Myanmar by helping build conditions for sustaining the reform process and for the betterment of its peoples.

SECRETARY-GENERAL BEGINS LEBANON VISIT

  • The Secretary-General arrived in Beirut on Friday.

  • He has met separately with the Lebanese President, Prime Minister and the Speaker of Parliament and held a press conference.

  • Asked about reactions to the Secretary-General’s visit to Lebanon, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General had chosen Lebanon as his first trip of the year because of the importance of the country in the region. He also noted that the Secretary-General respects people’s right to protest peacefully.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY VOICES CONCERN OVER INSECURITY IN CAMPS FOR SOMALI REFUGEES

  • The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says it is increasingly concerned about insecurity in and around camps hosting hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees in the Horn of Africa.

  • UNHCR adds that the situation is particularly worrying in the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya where the threat of improvised explosive devices, kidnappings, vehicle hijackings and banditry remains high.

  • It says that the ability of aid agencies to deliver services in the largest refugee settlement in the world is being seriously curbed.

  • However, basic services are being maintained and UNHCR is also looking at alternative ways of delivering these services, including through larger involvement from the host community.

  • Meanwhile in Ethiopia, a security incident occurred near the Dollo Ado camps on Wednesday morning when three armed men fired at a vehicle belonging to an international non-governmental organization.

  • No one was hurt and this was the first such incident in the Dollo Ado area, but aid agencies have temporarily restricted all but essential activities and movements in the camps.

IRAN: SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS OUT AGAINST KILLING OF SCIENTIST

  • In response to a question on the Secretary-General’s reaction to the killing of a nuclear scientist in Tehran earlier this week, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General said on Friday morning that “any terrorist action or assassination of any people, whether scientist or civilian, is to be strongly condemned. It is not acceptable. Human rights must be protected.”

U.N. SYSTEM-WIDE TASK FORCE LOOKING INTO FINDINGS ON CHOLERA IN HAITI

  • In response to a question on the issue of cholera in Haiti, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the UN Task Force is chaired by the Assistant Secretary-General of the Department of Field Support (DFS) and comprises senior staff from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Medical Services of the Department of Management, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA), and DFS.  The scope of the Task Force’s mandate is to carefully study the findings made by the Independent Panel of Experts and make recommendations to the Secretary-General. The Task Force continues to make progress on important issues that have far-reaching health, operational and financial implications.

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS SENIOR OFFICIALS FOR U.N. POPULATION FUND, SOUTH SUDAN

  • The Secretary-General on Friday appointed Ms. Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen of Denmark as Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director for Management of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).  Ms. Albrectsen will replace Mari Simonen.  The Secretary-General is grateful to Ms. Simonen for her dedicated service and commitment to the United Nations.

  • Ms. Albrectsen brings to UNFPA nearly 20 years of development and managerial experience, having held leadership positions in her government and previously in UNDP and UNFPA. 

  • Mr. Raisedon Zenenga of Zimbabwe has been appointed Deputy Special Representative (Political) in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

  • Mr. Zenenga brings over 28 years of service in the United Nations, government and diplomatic positions, including more than ten years at the management level in complex United Nations peacekeeping operations.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SENIOR APPOINTMENTS TO BE ANNOUNCED AS THEY ARE READY: In response to questions on senior appointments, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the announcements would be made when they are ready and that there was no specific number of appointments or deadline to announce them.

NO EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT CLAIMS OF THOUSANDS DEAD IN SOUTH SUDAN, SAYS U.N. MISSION: Asked about casualty figures following the recent clashes in Pibor, South Sudan, the Deputy Spokesperson said that to date, patrols by the UN mission there (UNMISS) have found only 15 bodies in and around Pibor Town, and no local witnesses have offered evidence to support claims that the number of dead ranged from 1,000 to over 3,000.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

7 – 13 JANUARY 2012

(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)

Saturday, 14 January

Today, the Secretary-General continues his visit to Lebanon. He will also visit the United Arab Emirates, where he will convene his High Level Group on Sustainable Energy for All and attend the World Future Energy Summit. General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser will also attend the Summit, before travelling to Bahrain for an official visit.

Sunday, 15 January

Today, Catherine Bragg, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, will begin a visit to Côte d’Ivoire. Her mission will end on 18 January.

Today, Rashida Manjoo, Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, will begin a visit to Italy which ends on 26 January.

Monday, 16 January

This morning, the Security Council will be briefed and hold consultations on the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA).

Today and tomorrow, Ambassador Matthew Nimetz, the Secretary General’s Personal Envoy for the talks between Greece and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, will meet with Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis of Greece and Ambassador  Zoran Jolevski of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in New York.

Today, Marzuki Darusman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, will begin his second official fact-finding visit to Japan. His mission ends on 20 January.

Tuesday, 17 January

This morning, the Security Council will hold consultations on Iraq, the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) and weapons of mass destruction.

Wednesday, 18 January

There are no major events scheduled for today.

Thursday, 19 January

This morning, the Security Council will hold an open debate on justice and the rule of law.

At 3:30 p.m., the United Nations Oral History website will be launched in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library.

Friday, 20 January

There are no major events scheduled for today.

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