Posted by: APO | 17 October 2007

UN – HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MARIE OKABE
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

BAN KI-MOON STRONGLY CONDEMNS SOMALI FORCES
 “ILLEGAL” ENTRY INTO U.N. COMPOUND AND DETENTION OF U.N. OFFICIAL

  • Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemns the forceful and illegal entry of Government security forces into the United Nations compound in Mogadishu, and the detention of a United Nations official.
     
  • The Secretary-General calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the staff member. 
     
  • The Secretary-General reminds the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia of its obligation to protect all United Nations staff members and property. Today’s actions are in flagrant violation of the 1946 Convention on Privileges and Immunity, to which the Somali government formally committed in the January 2006 agreement.
     
  • Asked about UN security arrangements in Somalia, the Spokeswoman said those arrangements could not prevent the forceful and illegal entry by the government into the UN compound, which had necessitated the statement.

 WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME SUSPENDS DISTRIBUTIONS IN MOGADISHU

  • The World Food Programme says the incident happened this morning at 8:15 local time. WFP says that between 50 and 60 armed members of the Somali National Security Service (NSS) entered the UN compound in an unauthorized manner, over the protests of UN staff members.  No shots were fired, but WFP’s officer-in-charge, Idris Osman, was taken away at gunpoint.  He is now being held in a cell at NSS headquarters near the presidential palace, according to WFP.
     
  • In light of Osman’s detention and the need to safeguard its staff, WFP says it has been forced to immediately suspend a food distribution programme that began in Mogadishu on Monday.  The programme, aimed at providing food to more than 75,000 people through local mosques, was WFP’s first distribution in the Somali capital since June.
     
  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) notes that this comes at a time when more than 1.5 million Somalis need assistance and protection, a 50 percent increase since the beginning of the year.  OCHA notes a deteriorating food security situation in central and southern Somalia, due to an inadequate rainy season, as well as continuing internal displacements and a potential looming cholera epidemic.

 WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME CONDEMNS KILLING
 OF THREE OF ITS DRIVERS IN DARFUR

  • The World Food Programme (WFP) has condemned the killing of three contract truck drivers who were shot to death while working for the UN’s food agency in Darfur.
     
  • Approximately 2,000 contract drivers and drivers’ assistants work for WFP in Darfur, where the agency delivers food to three million people in its largest operation worldwide.
     
  • WFP has no information on who is responsible for the killings.

 U.N. CONCERNED ABOUT RISING ATTACKS IN DARFUR

  • Increasing insecurity in the Darfur region of Sudan has resulted in further attacks against civilians, aid workers, and AU troops, which are significantly impacting the civilian population and interrupting vital life-saving aid progammes at a time when they are most needed. 
     
  • Some 4.2 million people in Darfur are currently in need of humanitarian assistance. Recent violence in the towns of Haskanita and Muhajariya in Darfur displaced nearly 90,000 civilians alone.
     
  • The United Nations is seriously concerned about the safety of civilians throughout Darfur.
     
  • Asked about comments from International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, purportedly saying that recent UN reports did not do enough to mention justice for Darfur and the outstanding arrest warrants, the Spokeswoman said that Moreno Ocampo was doing his job to raise awareness of the need for justice in Darfur. At the same time, she added, the Secretary-General had also repeatedly raised the issue of justice and has asserted that there should be no impunity.

 SUMMARY OF PROCUREMENT CONTRACT FOR DARFUR FORCE
 TO BE POSTED ONLINE

  • Asked whether the Pacific Architect Engineers, Inc. (PAE) procurement contract for the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) hybrid operation will be published, the Spokeswoman said that, as per the established procedures, summary information of the contract (such as the price, name of company, dates, etc.) will be posted on the UN Procurement website. Actual copies of the contract are not posted for commercial, legal and security reasons, she added.
     
  • Asked why the price of the contract was reduced from $700 million to $250 million, Okabe said that, following negotiations with the vendor, the initial “planning” requirements were further clarified and better specified by the logisticians and experts from the Department of Field Support (DFS), and therefore much uncertainty was eliminated, substantially reducing the price.
     
  • The contractual risk for the vendor and the UN was reviewed in depth, she added, thus resulting in further price savings. Finally, additional savings have been achieved through the normal negotiation process, using benchmarking, market survey, among other things.
     
  • Okabe also noted that the $250 million sum is a “Not to Exceed (NTE)” amount. The price is actually component-based, meaning that the United Nations pays only for those goods and services actually ordered, delivered, and approved for payment.

 U.N. MISSION IN DR CONGO DENIES IT IS SUPPORTING DISSIDENT TROOPS

  • The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has categorically denied Congolese press reports accusing it of providing support to dissident troops led by renegade General Laurent Nkunda.
     
  • The Mission declared earlier today in Kinshasa that UN peacekeepers are fully committed to discharging the mandate entrusted them by the Security Council to assist the Government in restoring state authority, including in the area of security.
     
  • Meanwhile, the situation remains tense in North Kivu in the east, where the standoff between the Government Army and dissident troops continues. Some 150 schoolchildren from the Rutshuru area, some as young as 7, were given refuge yesterday by UN peacekeepers after fleeing attempts to enlist them into Nkunda’s force. An unknown number of schoolchildren fled in other directions, and remain unaccounted for, two days after Nkunda troops surrounded their school in the center of Rutshuru.
     
  • In the Ituri province, UN disarmament workers report that some 1,800 former combatants have now joined the cantonment sites. However, an undefined number of fighters, in particular those from the FNI armed group, remain staunchly opposed to joining the disarmament drive.

 UNICEF NOTES GAINS IN FIGHT AGAINST MALARIA IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

  • Significant gains are being made in the fight against malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a newly-released report prepared by UNICEF on behalf of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership.
     
  • The report shows that the supply of insecticide-treated nets more than doubled between 2004 and 2006, to 63 million.  There have also been marked improvements in the distribution of those nets to communities in greatest need, the report notes. 
     
  • Net usage still falls short of global targets, however, and not enough infected children are receiving effective treatment, UNICEF says.  It is encouraging greater commitments from donors and bolder efforts by national governments to scale up malaria programmes.

  MORE THAN 400 PEOPLE DIED WHILE CROSSING GULF OF ADEN

  • The UN Refugee agency (UNHCR) is concerned about the increasing number of smuggling boats carrying people across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen, as well as the appalling death toll among the Somalis and Ethiopians making the crossing. 
     
  • UNHCR says it continues to receive harrowing reports of passengers being stabbed, beaten and thrown overboard. 
     
  • So far this year, more than 400 people are known to have died during the crossing, while almost that many remain missing.

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