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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING


BY MARIE OKABE

DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

 

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday
, December 3, 2009
 

 

BAN KI-MOON CONDEMNS SUICIDE ATTACK IN MOGADISHU

  • Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemns today’s suicide attack at a graduation ceremony of medical students in Mogadishu. 
     

  • Reports indicate that at least 15 Somalis have lost their lives, among them three Cabinet ministers of the Transitional Federal Government, graduating students and journalists reporting on what should have been an event filled with hope for Somalia.  Another government minister has been severely wounded in this attack.  The Secretary-General sends his deepest sympathies to the families of the victims as well as to the government and the people of Somalia. 
     

  • This attack could only strengthen the determination of the Somali government and people and their partners to persist in their efforts to fight terrorism. It underlines how urgent it has become for the international community to accelerate its delivery of pledged support to Somali security institutions as well as to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). 
     

  • Meanwhile, the United Nations, the African Union Mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, the European Union, the InterGovernmental Authority on Development, the League of Arab States, Norway and the United States also issued a joint statement in Nairobi today. They condemned in the strongest terms the cowardly suicide bombing carried out which killed Transitional Federal Government officials, students, journalists and other civilians in Mogadishu.
     

  • At UN headquarters. the Security Council has scheduled consultations at 3:00 this afternoon, to discuss the latest developments in Somalia.

 

U.N. AND HUMANITARIAN AGENCIES SEEK $689 MILLIONS FOR SOMALIA

  • A Humanitarian Appeal for Somalia was launched today in Nairobi by the United Nations Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden.
     

  • The 2010 appeal seeks an estimated $689 million for 174 projects from 14 UN agencies and 57 international and national non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to respond to he most urgent humanitarian needs in Somalia.
     

  • The appeal focuses on four strategic priorities: providing life-saving humanitarian services; protecting and increasing the social economic and environmental assets; providing vulnerable populations with a minimum package of basic services; and strengthening the protective environment for vulnerable populations particularly women and the youth.
     

  • Mr. Bowden reiterated that, "early funding will be absolutely crucial to provide humanitarian assistance in time" and added that "without strong donor commitment from the first week of 2010 humanitarian assistance for nearly 3.6 million Somalis will be delayed and lives will be at greater risk."

 

SECURITY COUNCIL TO DISCUSS SOMALIA, HEARS UPDATES ON U.N. TRIBUNALS

  • The Security Council has scheduled consultations at 3:00 this afternoon, to discuss the latest developments in Somalia.
     

  • The Security Council this morning met to hear the latest update from the Presidents and the prosecutors of the two international tribunals on their efforts to wrap up those bodies’ work.
     

  • Serge Brammertz, the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, noted the progress of the trial of Radovan Karadzic, and added that the arrest of Ratko Mladic remains a priority for his office. And Hassan Jallow, the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, said that he anticipates that by the end of 2010, the trial of all the current detainees, except for two recently arrested suspects, will have concluded.

 

COMING WEEKS AND MONTHS WILL BE DECISIVE FOR CYPRUS

  • The report of the Secretary-General on his mission of good offices in Cyprus is out on the racks.
     

  • In it, the Secretary-General says that the parties are making solid progress, and that he is “cautiously optimistic” that a solution can be achieved. He adds that, on the basis of what has been accomplished so far, the international community expects the talks to continue to make substantial progress in a timely fashion.
     

  • The Secretary-General urges the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders to maintain their good personal and working relationship, which is vital for the success of the talks. He says the coming weeks and months will be decisive, as important decisions will have to be made. This is a unique opportunity that must be seized by both sides, he adds.
     

  • Meanwhile, Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat met today under UN auspices in Nicosia.
     

  • In his remarks to the press after the meeting, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser non Cyprus, Alexander Downer, said that the leaders discussed the question of citizenship, aliens, immigration and asylum.  They are expected to meet again next Wednesday, 9 December.

 

BURUNDI: GAINS MUST BE CONSOLIDATED BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER 2010 ELECTIONS

  • The Secretary-General’s latest report on the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB) is out today.
     

  • In it, the Secretary-General says that much has been achieved in Burundi in a short time but that the situation remains fragile. He adds that the coming year will be crucial for Burundi, as the country must be assisted to ensure that the gains achieved so far are consolidated before, during and after the 2010 elections.
     

  • In light of this, the Secretary-General recommends that the mandate of the Office in the country be renewed for an additional year when it expires on 31 December 2009.

 

IRAQ: U.N. ENVOY SAYS 27 FEBRUARY FEASIBLE OPTION FOR ELECTIONS

  • Ad Melkert, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, responded positively in a statement yesterday to multiple suggestions to assist in finding solutions for the few outstanding questions concerning Iraq’s Election Law. He has been using his good offices during his various consultations with all political leaders in order to assist in reaching an agreement.
     

  • The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) strongly supports the efforts undertaken to clarify voting for Iraqis abroad, as well as the inclusion in the law of the distribution of seats among the governorates. UNAMI says that 27 February 2010 is a feasible option for the election date, for practical and constitutional reasons.

 

MEASLES DEATHS WORLDWIDE DROP BY 78%

  • Measles deaths worldwide have fallen by 78% between 2000 and 2008—but a resurgence is likely if vaccination efforts are not sustained.
     

  • That’s according to the Measles initiative, a partnership launched in 2001 that includes UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).
     

  • Margaret Chan, WHO’s Director-General said that measles was a highly contagious disease that can quickly take advantage of any lapse in effort. Immunization experts fear that the combined effect of decreased political and financial commitment could result in an estimated 1.7 million measles-related deaths between 2010-13.

 

DOUBLING INVESTMENTS IN FAMILY PLANNING CAN CUT MATERNAL DEATHS BY HALF

  • A new report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says that maternal deaths in developing countries could be slashed by 70% and newborn deaths cut nearly in half if the world doubled investment in family planning and pregnancy-related care.
     

  • Currently, more than half a million maternal deaths and 3.5 million newborn deaths, many of them easily preventable, occur each year in developing countries. 

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS DISABLED SHOULD BE AT HEART OF DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS

  • Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The theme this year is “making the Millennium Development Goals disability-inclusive.”
     

  • In a message, the Secretary-General says that persons with disabilities are often among the poorest and most excluded members of society. He stresses that putting persons with disabilities and their communities at the heart of development efforts is a proven way to advance the agenda.
     

  • The Secretary-General also says that the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which entered into force in 2008, is one of the most important tools to advance this cause. We must continue to work for its implementation and its universality, he adds.

 

STEVIE WONDER INDUCTED AS U.N. MESSENGER OF PEACE

  • This morning, the Secretary-General introduced the singer Stevie Wonder as the newly-designated UN Messenger of Peace.
     

  • He acknowledged Stevie Wonder’s role as a music star but also as a great humanitarian and activist and said the UN looked forward to working with him to advance the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.
     

  • And on another note, the Secretary-General also asked Stevie Wonder to consider a special performance of his song “Signed, sealed, delivered” to inspire the negotiators of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.
     

  • Asked about a fire alarm that went off in the conference room where Wonder and the Secretary-General were speaking, the Spokeswoman said that the alarm was triggered by smoke generated by construction work on the second basement level. There was no damage reported, and no fire, she added. The meeting was wrapped up, and the participants went on to a press briefing in a different room.

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO MARK 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF ANTI-DISCRIMINATION CONVENTION FOR WOMEN

  • The Secretary-General, at 3:00 this afternoon will celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, known as the CEDAW Convention.
     

  • He is to say that the Convention will underpin the work of the new United Nations gender equality entity that the General Assembly has decided to establish.  The Secretary-General urges Member States to get this new entity up and running quickly.
     

  • He also will urge the entire UN system to support the full implementation of the Convention and will call on those few countries that have not ratified the Convention to do so.
     

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS
 

UNITED NATIONS IS ENGAGED IN RESOLVING CASE OF SAHARAWI ACTIVIST: Asked about a request by the Spanish Government for the Secretary-General to deal with the case of Saharawi activist Aminatou Haidar, the Spokeswoman recalled that the Secretary-General has already stated his concerns about the detention of Aminatou Haidar. The United Nations, she said, is engaged in finding a solution and is working with Morocco and other parties to promote a speedy resolution.

 

BAN KI-MOON IS WILL PUSH TO SEAL A DEAL AT COPENHAGEN CONFERENCE: Asked about attendance at the Copenhagen conference on climate change, the Spokeswoman noted that the Secretary-General on Tuesday pointed out that attendance by heads of government was already in excess of 90. The Secretary-General, she said, plans to attend the conference and push for the sealing of a deal on climate change.
 

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO CONTINUE GOOD OFFICES FOR MYANMAR: Asked about the replacement of Ibrahim Gambari as the Special Adviser dealing with Myanmar, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General would continue his good offices role on Myanmar and would seek a replacement for Gambari if he is confirmed to take up duties as the Joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur.
 

SECRETARY-GENERAL’S PRESS CONFERENCE SET FOR 14 DECEMBER: Asked about the Secretary-General’s next press conference, the Spokeswoman said it was scheduled for 14 December at 11:00 a.m.

 

 

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