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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 MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

 UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday
,  December 18, 2009
 

 

COPENHAGEN: BAN KI-MOON SAYS FINISHING LINE IN SIGHT

  • The Secretary-General today spoke at an informal high-level session at the climate change conference in Copenhagen, telling world leaders, “The finishing line is in sight.” He said that the world has never before been united on such a scale. He said: “We are closer than ever to the world’s first truly global agreement to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
     

  • With just hours remaining to close the final gaps, the Secretary-General implored leaders to seize this opportunity.  Now is the time, he said, for common sense, compromise and courage.
     

  • The Secretary-General worked through most of Thursday night and Friday with world leaders who are negotiating the final text of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. In a press encounter on Thursday evening, the Secretary-General asserted, “This is one of the most complex and complicated and most difficult processes that you may imagine, but I have not seen anything that indicates that we cannot seal the deal in Copenhagen.”
     

  • Asked whether the Secretary-General had asked world leaders to stay on past Friday, the Spokesperson said that he had not. Nesirky noted that the Secretary-General had made clear that now is the time to seal a deal on climate change, and that the whole world is watching.

 

BAN KI-MOON RELIEVED THAT SAHARAWI ACTIVIST IS NOW HOME

  • The Secretary-General said in a statement that he was greatly relieved that Aminatou Haidar is now home in Laayoune, ending the impasse that led to her hunger strike of more than a month. He is grateful for the efforts of all the parties involved in finding a solution to this situation.
     

  • The Secretary-General had urged repeatedly that humanitarian concerns prevail in this case and he appreciates the action Morocco has taken in this regard. He expresses his hope that the parties will now work with his Personal Envoy, Christopher Ross, to resume negotiations in the near future towards a settlement of the Western Sahara issue.
     

  • Asked about the UN role in resolving the dispute over Aminatou Haidar, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations was active diplomatically over the past several weeks along with others.
     

  • He said that, while this is not part of Ross’s Security Council-mandated negotiations, for humanitarian reasons, Ross held numerous bilateral discussions with Morocco, the Frente Polisario, Spain, France and the United States in an effort to facilitate a solution that would enable Aminatou Haidar to return to Laayoune.
     

  • Also, Nesirky said, the Secretary-General and his staff held discussions with the Foreign Ministers of Morocco and Spain and asked them to make all efforts so that the situation could be resolved. The Secretary-General also offered that the United Nations could take any action which could help in these efforts.
     

  • Asked further about what the United Nations specifically had done, the Spokesperson added that the United Nations did not have any direct role in coming to final terms to resolve the crisis or in the logistics of transporting Ms. Haidar back home.

 

U.N. FORCE IN LEBANON RESCUES SURVIVORS FROM CAPSIZED SHIP

  • The Maritime Task Force of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is currently involved in a major search and rescue operation at sea, after a Panamanian-flagged ship sank off the coast of Lebanon.
     

  • The operation began on Thursday evening and continued through the night in difficult weather conditions. As of 17:00 hours Friday, Maritime Task Force ships had rescued 35 survivors and recovered the bodies of eight deceased victims from the sea. Three more sailors have been rescued by other ships that responded to the location.
     

  • The UNIFIL Force Commander, Major-General Claudio Graziano, said that UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force peacekeepers are doing their utmost to save the lives of the victims.
     

  • Asked whether the Maritime Task Force acted on a request from the Lebanese Government, the Spokesperson later noted that on Thursday evening, the Lebanese Navy conveyed to UNIFIL a distress signal from the ship that had capsized about 10 nautical miles off the coast of Tripoli in northern Lebanon. That prompted UNIFIL’s action.

 

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY ASSISTS THOUSANDS DISPLACED BY MILITARY OPERATIONS IN NORTHWEST PAKISTAN

  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports that, as military operations intensify in the Orakzai Agency of north-west Pakistan, an estimated 40,000 people have sought refuge in a neighbouring district, Hangu, in recent weeks.
     

  • The internally displaced people are mainly staying with extended family and kin networks or being hosted by local families, as is the pattern in this part of Pakistan.
     

  • UNHCR has sent 100 all-weather tents to reinforce Government supplies at a nearby camp, as well as family kits of relief supplies, such as sleeping mats, blankets, quilts, kitchen sets and jerry-cans. The difficult security situation in Hangu district hampers the Agency’s access to the site, but UNHCR is working through local partners to provide assistance. It is sending an additional 300 tents to reinforce supplies at the camp and registration of the displaced people there is expected to begin on Sunday.

 

INCREASED NUMBER OF AFRICAN REFUGEES END UP IN YEMEN

  • More than 74,000 Africans, fleeing desperate situations of civil war, political instability, poverty, famine and drought in the Horn of Africa, reached the shores of Yemen this year, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). This figure represents a staggering 50 per cent increase over an already record high figure of 50,000 arrivals in 2008.
     

  • Among the risks the refugees face along their trek, many are beaten, raped, killed or just thrown overboard into shark-infested waters. In addition, the overloaded and overcrowded rickety boats sometimes capsize, resulting in the drowning of many aboard. According to the latest UNHCR statistics, 309 people drowned or did not survive the trip this year alone.
     

  • The Agency adds that nearly 32,000 Somalis arrived in Yemen this year, which is consistent with the number of Somali arrivals in 2008. However, the number of Ethiopians reaching Yemeni shores more than doubled this year, totaling over 42,000 people.

 

ON MIGRANTS DAY, BAN KI-MOON HIGHLIGHTS POSITIVE CONTRIBUTIONS OF MIGRANTS

  • Today is International Migrants Day. In his message marking the day, the Secretary-General says that migration can be a positive and empowering experience for migrants themselves, and for both the home and host societies. But he notes that too many migrants suffer discrimination, exploitation, and abuse.
     

  • The Secretary-General says that migrants are frequent targets of hate speech, harassment and violence. They are also unfairly blamed for crime and economic difficulties.
     

  • The Secretary-General therefore calls on Governments to protect the human rights of migrants and to put human rights at the heart of migration policy. He further urges States to raise awareness of the positive contributions that migrants make to the economic, social and cultural lives of their host countries.

 

U.N. ENVOY SAYS WORLD SHOULD NOT GIVE UP ON SOMALIA

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has said that, although the situation in Somalia appears discouraging, the international community should not give up on its moral obligations and responsibilities to Somalis.
     

  • Speaking in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, he called for further assistance for the Transitional Federal Government, to make it a more credible partner to its own people and to the international community.
     

  • He also urged the international community to do more to be physically located in the capital, Mogadishu, in order to be closer to the victims of the country’s many years of instability and insecurity.
     

  • Ould-Abdallah also called for more attention to be paid to the voices of the Somalis, the neighbouring countries and Somalis in the diaspora, who send about $1.2 billion annually in remittances.

 

TIMOR-LESTE: U.N. HANDS OVER RESPONSIBILITY FOR POLICE INTELLIGENCE SERVICE

  • Today in Dili, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Security Sector Support and Rule of Law, Takahisa Kawakami, presided over a ceremony marking the resumption of primary responsibility for the conduct of the Police Intelligence Service of the Timorese national police.
     

  • The Government and the UN Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) are implementing the resumption process in a gradual manner – district by district, unit by unit. Assessments of further districts and units are conducted by joint teams comprising representatives of the Government and UNMIT.

 

U.N. DISASTER MANAGEMENT TEAM REACHES MILESTONE DEPLOYMENT

  • The United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) system, a stand-by disaster response mechanism that sends crisis-management experts to disaster zones, has now reached its 1,000th deployment since it was started. That deployment began in October when it sent teams to help respond to the recent series of tropical storms that hit the Philippines.
     

  • In 2009, a relatively mild year in terms of natural disasters, the UNDAC system, which is managed by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, deployed 11 teams in response to disasters in Africa, Asia and the Pacific and Central America.

 

AFGHANISTAN: BAN KI-MOON’S ACTION ON FORMER DEPUTY U.N. ENVOY WAS IN THE INTERESTS OF THE ORGANISATION

  • Asked about the termination in September of Peter Galbraith's appointment as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, the Spokesperson reiterated that Galbraith’s appointment was terminated because the Secretary-General determined that such action would be in the interests of the Organization.
     

  • Further elaboration would not be appropriate at this time, since Galbraith has chosen to challenge the termination of his appointment, he added.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

19-25 December 2009

 

Saturday, 19 December

Today is the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation.

 

Sunday, 20 December

Today is the International Human Solidarity Day.

 

Monday, 21 December

The Secretary-General will speak at the Security Council stakeout at 9:30 a.m., following his trip to Copenhagen.

 

At 11:00 a.m., His Excellency Dr. R. M. Marty M. Natalegawa, the former Indonesian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, will hold a press conference in his capacity as Foreign Minister.

 

Today, the Security Council will hear a briefing on the African Union’s Panel report on Darfur and will hold a private debate on the same subject. The Security Council is also expected to adopt resolutions on the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC); on the Development Fund for Iraq/ International Advisory and Monitoring Board; on the 1267 Monitoring Team; and on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).

 

In Geneva, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will launch two reports on Lords Resistance Army in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 

Tuesday, 22 December

There are no major events scheduled for today.

 

Wednesday, 23 December

There are no major events scheduled for today.

 

Thursday, 24 December

There are no major events scheduled for today.

 

Friday, 25 December

Today is an official UN holiday. The United Nations Headquarters will be closed.