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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

 

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

 

 

BY FARHAN HAQ, ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

TUESDAY, 9 NOVEMBER 2010

 

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL DISCUSSES EFFORTS TO MOVE MIDDLE EAST PROCESS FORWARD WITH ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER

  • The Secretary-General is on his way to Seoul, where he will arrive on Wednesday morning. He will also give a press conference Wednesday to discuss his priorities ahead of the G-20 Summit.
     

  • On Monday evening, before his departure, the Secretary-General met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and they discussed the ongoing efforts to move the Middle East peace process forward. The Secretary-General emphasized that it was vital to break the current diplomatic stalemate, resume negotiations and produce results. He expressed concern at the resumption of the settlement activity and recent announcements of further settlement construction in East Jerusalem.
     

  • The Secretary-General and the Prime Minister also discussed the latest report on Security Council resolution 1701, including current proposals on the issue of Ghajar. They also reviewed the regional situation, including Iran. Finally, the Secretary-General expressed hope for further measures by the Government of Israel to ease the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza.
     

  • Asked about the discussion on Ghajar, the Spokesperson said that the Prime Minister mentioned proposals, including for a possible solution of that issue. No firm offers were made, however.
     

  • In response to a question, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General consulted widely with Member States before travelling to Seoul for the G20 Summit, and said that he would try to represent the views of the Member States as a whole while he is at that summit.

 

HEAD OF POLITICAL AFFAIRS SAYS PIRACY OFF SOMALI COAST IS OUTPACING INTERNATIONAL EFFORTS

  • The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, told the Security Council this morning that piracy off the coast of Somalia is "a menace that is outpacing efforts by the international community to stem it."
     

  • He said the numbers are appalling; as of 4 November, over 438 seafarers and passengers and 20 ships are held by pirates - an increase of almost a hundred kidnapped victims in less than a month. Pascoe called for the immediate release of all those who are being held against their will by the pirates.
     

  • In presenting the Secretary-General's latest report on this issue, Pascoe said that warships alone will not solve the problem. He said, “We need to continue to fight this battle in the broadest manner, focusing simultaneously on deterrence, security and the rule of law, as well as providing economic alternatives for Somali youth.”
     

  • The Council also heard from the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov, who said his office has developed a counter-piracy programme to assist regional countries in prosecuting pirates. He said over 700 suspected and convicted pirates are now in detention in 12 countries.

 

HUMANITARIAN CHIEF WRAPS UP FIVE-DAY VISIT TO SUDAN, ASKS FOR RENEWED COMMITMENT

  • UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos today wrapped up her five-day visit to Sudan, telling reporters she had come to see for herself the status of the humanitarian response, to strengthen working relationships with the key stakeholders in Darfur and Southern Sudan and seek assurance from authorities on their responsibility to protect and uphold the rights of the population.
     

  • She said she asked for a renewed commitment from the authorities, in the South, in Darfur and at the federal level, to ensure that the delivery of humanitarian assistance is unhampered and free from any political, ethnic or religious consideration.
     

  • Amos said the importance of finding durable solutions for displaced populations was also raised during her discussions. She stressed that all people have the right to return home or settle in an alternative location of their choosing, but the conditions need to be appropriate and their safety and security must be guaranteed.
     

  • She said that ensuring that returns take place in a free and principled manner is the responsibility of the Sudanese Government.

 

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY MOBILIZES TO ASSIST MYANMAR REFUGEES IN THAILAND

  • The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) mobilized quickly on Monday to come to the aid of more than 15,000 refugees who had fled into northern Thailand after fighting had broken out between ethnic Karen rebels and Government troops in the Myawaddy area of eastern Myanmar, the day after elections.
     

  • At the request of Thai authorities, UNHCR is coordinating the efforts of non-governmental organizations and others to provide shelter, food and water to refugees in the town of Mae Sot.
     

  • Refugees had started pouring across the border early in the morning on foot and on inner tubes across the Moei River. Some had said they felt their lives were at risk after their houses had been attacked, while others said they had fled the sound of fighting.
     

  • UNHCR emptied its warehouse in Mae Sot to provide 90 tents which Thai authorities and the refugees themselves had erected in the evening.  Today, UNHCR plastic sheeting is being put up to provide more shelter.
     

  • The Secretary-General is concerned about reports of outbreaks of fighting in some areas, and he urges all sides to refrain from any action that could raise tensions further or create instability at this sensitive time.
     

  • Asked about reports that refugees were being returned from Thailand, the Spokesperson said he had no confirmation but noted UNHCR’s stance against any returns that are not voluntary.

 

HAITI: U.N. DEVELOPS ALERT SYSTEM FOR REPORTING CHOLERA CASES

  • In Haiti, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the Government has to date reported 8,138 hospitalised cases of cholera and 544 deaths due to the disease. Those cases were reported in the West, Northwest, North, Centre and Artibonite departments.
     

  • Some 14 cholera treatment centres (CTCs) are functioning in the West, Artibonite and Centre departments, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). OCHA says that a Standard Operation Procedure for reporting new cases or resurgences of water-borne disease, such as cholera, has been developed to support the response to the epidemic. This is an alert system that will allow quicker reporting in areas with non-confirmed cases of cholera and areas with confirmed cases. It will also help to identify “hot spots” and actions to be taken.

 

MEMBER STATES TO DECIDE ON BOARD OF U.N. WOMEN

  • Regarding comments made by Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi on whether Iran should be seated on the board of the forthcoming gender entity, UN Women, the Spokesperson said that it is up to Member States to determine who would be on that board.
     

  • He added that the United Nations expects all its Member States to uphold human rights, including the rights of women, and noted that the Member States undergo a process by which their human rights records are reviewed.
     

  • Asked about Ebadi’s comments that the Secretary-General needed to speak up for human rights defenders in China, Haq said that while he was in Beijing last week, at the Central Party School, the Secretary-General spoke about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and emphasized the need to respect the right to freedom of expression and to protect human rights defenders.
     

  • The Secretary-General made clear in a recent press conference that he had discussed human rights issues in his private talks with Chinese leaders. He added that diplomatic discourse has sometimes, necessarily, to be conducted in confidence.

 

U.N. AIMS TO REACH MORE THAN 130 MILLION INDIAN CHILDREN WITH MEASLES VACCINATION

  • Under a campaign supported by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) that kicked off today, 134 million children in India will receive a second dose of a vaccination against measles.
     

  • The highly contagious disease claims the lives of some 400 children every day, and in 2008, three out of four children who died of measles were from India.
     

  • The campaign now under way in 14 high-risk Indian states aims to prevent up to 100,000 child deaths annually.

 

 

  

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