SG reacts strongly to Côte d’Ivoire attacks, Argentina outlines G77 priorities for 2011, Sudan passes Referendum midpoint without major incident and more from UN Direct

Haiti: yesterday afternoon, the SG spoke at a wreath-laying ceremony to mark the first anniversary of the Haiti earthquake, honoring the lives lost – including 102 UN staff members – and acknowledging that despite the slow pace of reconstruction, progress is being made.  He also observed a 47 second moment of silence, representing the length of the earthquake. In addition to the ceremony at HQ, USG Le Roy delivered a message on behalf of the SG at a ceremony in Port-au-Prince which paid tribute to the dedication of the UN staff in Haiti who survived and responded immediately to the call for volunteers.

Côte d’Ivoire: On Tuesday night, UNOCI peacekeepers were ambushed by Gbagbo’s military forces in Abidjan, an incident UNOCI has condemned. It was reported that three members of UNOCI’s force were slightly injured.  In a statement issued Wednesday, the SG said that forces loyal to Gbagbo are trying to force UNOCI to leave the area and reiterated that any attacks on UN peacekeepers are unacceptable and that UNOCI troops and police are determined to carry out their mandate.  Last night, SRSG Choi Young-Jin traveled to the Adobo neighborhood where recent clashes – resulting in civilian deaths – have taken place.  This morning, the SG condemned the attack and burning of UN vehicles, which resulted in injuries and damaged cars.

SG: tomorrow the SG will give his first press conference of the year at 11:30am, which is expected to lay out is 2011 priorities.  He will also brief the GA tomorrow morning in a closed meeting.

Sudan: Voting on the South Sudan Referendum is progressing smoothly with a sustained large turnout of voters.   As of Wednesday, 46% of people had already cast their votes in the first two days of the Referendum. The Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) is reporting a 25% turnout in the north and out-of-country voting. The SSRC esimates that preliminary results will be announced by February 2nd and, depending on whether appeals will be submitted, the final result will be released on February 7th or 14th.  Members of the SG’s Panel on the Referenda in Sudan continue to visit and monitor polling centers, as well as meet with authorities and voters.  Former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, the Panel’s Chair, told UN-backed Radio Miraya today, that with the current pace of voting “there should be no cause for extension” beyond January 15 – the scheduled final day of polling.

DRC: On Tuesday, human rights officers from MONUSCO and Congolese law enforcement officials completed a joint mission to Fizi, in the South Kivu province, in order to investigate claims of sexual violence against local women. Earlier this month, 13 women were allegedly raped and 19 other suffered related abuses. MONUSCO stated that there are 10 suspects being held in connection with these crimes; all are members of the Government army.

G77: On Wednesday, Yemen handed over the Chairmanship of the G77 to Argentina for 2011.  In a press conference outlining priorities for the year, Ambassador  Argüello said the G77 would be focusing, among other topics, on climate change, the international financial system and South-South cooperation.  Unsurprisingly – as the G77 traditionally focuses on economic issues – Argüello underlined the need for developed countries to follow through with their financial pledges of 0.7% of ODA and stressed that Haiti commitments had not yet been filled.  In regard to the international financial architecture, he said Argentina would introduce the idea that the G77 be allowed to participate in the system, and the G20 specifically.  He also noted that the South-South Summit, which takes place every five years, would be held in Libya this June.

Lebanon: the SG issued a statement yesterday appealing for calm and stating that he is closely monitoring the deteriorating political situation in Lebanon.  He also reiterated his full support for the independent Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Sri Lanka: the UN Country Team is currently helping the Government provide assistance to the over one million people affected by the recent flooding, including by collecting data to assess needs.  In the next week the UN will launch an emergency flash appeal to support national efforts.

UNHCR: today High Commissioner for Refugees Guterres arrived in Yemen, where he will assess the humanitarian needs of 300,000 IDPs displaced by conflict in the country, as well as refugees who have fled Somalia.