Council hears critial briefings on election preparations in Sudan, MINUSTAH speaks out against violence in Haiti and more from UN Direct

Sudan: At the Security Council ministerial meeting on Sudan this morning, the SG said he is worried by delays in preparations for the referenda, due partly to a lack of necessary funding. The Referendum Commission needs to be able to employ, train, and deploy the necessary personnel.  Even though there are talks of possibly increasing UN troop presence in Sudan, the SG said that negotiations in regards to post-referenda activity need to happen in order to prevent further violence from erupting. He stressed the need to access eastern Jebel Marra fully in Darfur, noting the dire humanitarian situation and growing hostilities. In support of the CPA, the Security Council adopted a Presidential Statement.  In her remarks, Secretary Clinton underlined areas where agreements will need to be reached in 2011, including oil revenue distribution, border demarcation, security arrangements, citizen rights and the protection of vulnerable, while Abyei and Darfur were underlined as key areas of concern.  Clinton also enumerated instances of progress in the election preparations, adding that the U.S. has provided over $200 million to help mitigate conflict, provide election security, create economic opportunities, and fund voter registration, education and observation. She also spoke of the need to include women, as the “underlying issues that cause conflicts are more likely to recur and less likely to be resolved if women not involved at the peace table”.

Sudan: Yesterday, Valerie Amos, USG on Humanitarian Affairs and ERC, briefed the press on her recent trip to Sudan to evaluate the humanitarian situation, particularly in Abyei and in South Darfur. Because of the upcoming referenda, Amos assessed the current situation of IDPs and other possible humanitarian implications, in order to work towards making “durable solutions across the country.” After meeting with people who have been living in IDP camps for seven years, she stated that they do really want to move and do not want to be dependent on foreign aid. Amos explained that conditions need to be appropriate, equipped with basic services, as well as safety and security measures, in order for people to move.  She also noted that 27 peacekeepers have been kidnapped over the past year and called for a renewed commitment to ensure unhampered delivery of humanitarian assistance, adding that more UN staff is needed on the ground during this “critical period”.

Haiti: Yesterday, Nigel Fisher, DSRSG and UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Haiti, gave an update on the situation via video teleconference. As the number of cholera cases continues to increase, Fisher stated that the situation is far more than a health and situation matter, as it is now a matter of national security.  Fisher also reported on the outbreak of violence between MINUSTAH soldiers and protestors, leading to the death of one demonstrator after an armed attack on UN peacekeepers.  An investigation on this has already begun and MINUSTAH issued a statement deploring the violence.  In this “climate of insecurity”, MINUSTAH said it stands ready to help the Haitian National Policy ensure safety and security in the lead-up to the elections.   Fisher added that the protestors have been demonstrating against both the location and the existence of cholera treatment centers set up all over the country.  International leaders are currently working together to broaden the communications strategy regarding the understanding of the cholera outbreak, which has included fliers, radio outreach, activities in camps and over 2 million SMS’s.  MINUSTAH aims to rapidly increase the number of cholera treatment centers (currently 18) and continue training authorities to manage, transport, and bury bodies safely, while the UN works to distribute water purification tabs and soap.  The $164 million appeal to respond to the cholera outbreak is only 5% funded.

G20: This afternoon, the SG briefed the GA on the G20 Summit at an informal plenary meeting, highlighting the importance of development and the MDGs.