Posted by: APO | 9 January 2008


9 January 2008



The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.


Good afternoon, all.


** Kenya


The UN is continuing its humanitarian response in Kenya following the recent violence and displacement there.  For its part, the UN country team in Kenya reports that, in a situation far more reminiscent of northern Uganda than Kenya, many people in different parts of the country, who are afraid of attack, are travelling to police stations at night to sleep.


Our guest today is Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes.  He will brief you on what the UN is doing in Kenya to alleviate the current situation.  Mr. Holmes should be here in about 15 minutes.


**Security Council


The Security Council heard a briefing this morning from Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, on the outstanding challenges and impediments the United Nations continues to face in its efforts to deploy the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, or UNAMID.  Council members are now in consultations on the same subject.


In his briefing, while noting a “modest momentum” created by the transfer of authority from the African Union Mission to UNAMID on December 31st, Mr. Guéhenno told the Council that war, with cross-border dimensions, is continuing.


He also reported that, five months after the adoption of resolution 1769 (2007), the United Nations does not yet have guarantees or agreements from the Sudanese Government on basic technical issues regarding the deployment of UNAMID.


At the same time, he said, the mission itself will not have the personnel or assets in place to implement its mandate for many months, even in the best-case scenario.  He noted that no offers for essential transportation and aviation assets have been made, including the 24 helicopters.


He described as “grave” the deteriorating security situation in Darfur.  The escalation of violence in West Darfur presents a fundamental challenge to UNAMID, which, he said, is a peacekeeping force not designed to deploy or function in a war zone.


Reporting on the attack on the UNAMID supply convoy earlier this week, Mr. Guéhenno said that, after the attack, the area commander for the Sudanese Armed Forces had confirmed that it was a Sudanese Armed Forces unit that had fired on the convoy.


Mr. Guéhenno will be going to the stakeout following his participation in the consultations.  Of course, we will announce when he will be at the stakeout.


** Western Sahara


The latest round of UN-brokered talks on Western Sahara is scheduled to wrap up this afternoon in Manhasset, New York.


The Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, Peter van Walsum, who has been mediating the discussions, is expected to issue a wrap-up communiqué.  We will make that available to you once we receive it.


** Democratic Republic of the Congo


The plenary session of the Kivu Conference on Peace, Security and Development began earlier today in Goma, in the north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The Conference is now expected to last until 17 January.  Delegates will take up four main topics, according to the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC). These include the stakes and challenges for peace, security, development and humanitarian concerns.


The Mission has been supporting preparations for the Conference and has a team on the ground, providing substantive information and technical advice.  MONUC is also assisting the Government with logistical and security support.


** C ôte d’Ivoire


The Secretary-General’s latest report on Côte d’Ivoire is out as a document today.  In it, he says that security conditions have improved and efforts to implement the Ouagadougou Peace Agreement have led to a positive political environment.  But these are fragile gains, because the Integrated Army Command Centre remains mired in operational difficulties and the disarmament of militias has been slow.


The State administration is redeploying throughout the country and the identification of the population, though limited in its geographical scope, has proceeded without major incidents.  The UN Operation (UNOCI), meanwhile, has set up an election certification team and is developing benchmarks for the certification exercise.


In conclusion, the Secretary-General says that progress in the peace process should, in due course, lead to proposals for a gradual drawdown of the UN presence.  He recommends a 12-month extension of the UN Operation.


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