SG and Council pay tribute to Richard Holbrooke, MONUSCO mobilizes in NE DRC, SG receives briefing on referendum preparations in Sudan and more from UN Direct

Richard Holbrooke: The SG has written to the family of Richard Holbrooke, and expressed his sadness upon hearing the news of his passing.  He said Holbrooke was a “giant and a legend in his time” and his mission to do good in the world was fierce. His legacy will be in his work and his inspiration to so many in the world.  This afternoon, the Security Council also issued a statement read by Ambassador Rice in her capacity as Council President, expressing their admiration for his work and his “unrelenting commitment” to promoting peace and enhancing international cooperation at the UN.

Peace Process: Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, told the Security Council today that the need to shift strategy is evident and Quartet envoys are planning a meeting of principals which he anticipates will happen in early 2011.  He called on parties to refrain from provocative actions, and expressed his concern with the recent rise of demolitions of Palestinian structures.

Côte d’Ivoire: UNHCR is reporting that Ivorians are going to Liberia amid political tensions, and, as of this weekend, there are an estimated 3,500 people are there, with approximately 150 more arriving per day.

DRC: MONUSCO and aid groups are concerned about the possibility of renewed attacks on civilians by the LRA, due to violence around the holiday season in previous years.  In response, peacekeepers are increasing their presence in LRA-affected areas in northeastern DRC.  The “Rudia Umbrella” operation currently underway by MONUSCO has already reinforced its positions in LRA areas by 900 peacekeepers.

Sudan: The SG’s Panel on the Referenda in Sudan arrived in New York today, where it will meet with the SG and brief him on the preparations they see are needed in advance of the referenda.  The Panel will also brief both the Security Council and the media on Thursday and will travel to Sudan December 18-22 for their third visit.

UN Birthdays: today UNHCR celebrated its 60th anniversary, with a call to do more to help the world’s forcibly displaced, while UNESCO marked the 65th anniversary of the adoption of its Constitution.