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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-01-07

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

DAILY HIGHLIGHTS

Wednesday, 7 January 1998


This document is prepared by the Central News Section of the Department of Public Information and is updated every week-day at approximately 6:00 PM.

HEADLINES

  • Secretary-General Kofi Annan deplores aerial attacks on an airfield in Afghanistan during delivery of humanitarian relief supplies by World Food Programme.
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees condemns escalating cycle of violence in Burundi.
  • World Food Programme sends food to flood victims in Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Inter-African mission in Central African Republic appeals for improved conditions of its peacekeeping troops.
  • United Nations decides to send a technical team to Sierra Leone.
  • Denmark becomes second Member State to pay in full its assessed contribution to United Nations 1998 budget.


United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has deplored the recent aerial attacks on an airfield in Afghanistan while World Food Programme aircraft were delivering emergency humanitarian relief supplies.

In a statement read out by his Spokesman Juan Carlos Brandt on Wednesday, the Secretary-General said these attacks on the Bamiyan airfield were carried out despite clearances received in advance from the Taliban authorities.

The attacks not only prevented the delivery of urgently needed food to 160, 000 vulnerable people who rely on United Nations assistance, but also jeopardized the safety of humanitarian workers, the Secretary- General said.

The statement said such attacks were not acceptable and called on the Taliban authorities to allow the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance and to cease any action that endangers the safety of humanitarian personnel.

The Secretary-General has instructed UN representatives in Afghanistan to continue to press Taliban to give an assurance that the airlift of food supplies to central Afghanistan can be safely resumed.


United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Sadako Ogata has condemned the escalating cycle of violence in Burundi.

In a statement issued in Geneva on Wednesday, Mrs. Ogata said that the attack on Tuesday in Maramvya village in Bujumbura province had major implications for hundreds of thousands of returnees and refugees. Mrs. Ogata said that these attacks were aimed at destabilizing areas where thousands of people have returned and were trying to restart their lives. She said that her agency was deeply concerned about the implications of these attacks for some 170,000 returnees it assists in Burundi and the 200, 000 Burundi refugees it cares for abroad.

Approximately 8,000 civilians fled the area as a result of the attack. They included about 3,000 survivors of last week's massacre at the nearby village of Rukaramu. In that massacre more than 150 people were killed.

The United Nations refugee agency on Wednesday sent an assessment mission to the area. Aid workers, including UNHCR were unable to reach Maramvya on Tuesday to check for casualties but they met several wounded villagers on the road leading to the area.

The United Nations refugee agency has been providing aid, including blankets, jerrycans and high protein biscuits for the survivors of the Rukaramu massacre. That massacre caused some 2,000 returnees to flee from the agency's Gatumba transit centre a few kilometres away. They have since returned to the site.

Expressing sympathy to the families of the victims, Mrs. Ogata said "Innocent civilians are clearly the targets. As in the attacks on Congolese refugees in Rwanda, most of the victims are women and children who are being chased further and further from their homes".


The World Food Programme has sent three tonnes of food to the people who have been affected by floods in Province Orientale in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Kinshasa, the country's capital, the level of the Congo River, which had risen due to recent torrential rains, is now decreasing in Kisangani.

The rains caused floods which destroyed eighty per cent of houses in the few villages along the river visited so far by relief workers. In Isangi, where the Congo and Lomami Rivers converge, 80 per cent of about 13,000 inhabitants have been affected.

There are also reports of an outbreak of cholera affecting approximately more than one thousand people. 211 people are reported to have died and 500 patients are currently being treated for cholera and other diseases. The United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs says that the situation has been aggravated by acute malnutrition.

A number of United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the Ministers of Interior, Health, Environment and Defence, as well as the Governor of the Province Orientale have formed a Crisis Committee to deal with the situation.

The Congolese Government has requested additional support from international humanitarian organizations. The United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs has said that it is prepared to act as a channel for cash contributions for immediate relief assistance.


A Committee monitoring the peace agreements in the Central African Republic, has called for an improvement of the material conditions of the African peacekeeping contingents in the country.

The contingents are from the African States participating in the Inter- African Mission to Monitor the Implementation of the Bangui Agreements (MISAB). The implementation of the agreements reached on 25 January 1997 is being supervised by the International Monitoring Committee.

In its latest report to the Security Council, the Committee says that the conditions of the African contingents serving in the Central African Republic are far inferior to those enjoyed by other similar forces operating in other conflict areas.

The Committee welcomed the establishment of a trust fund for the Central African Republic and the appeal by the Security Council to Member States to contribute to the Fund.

The mission in the Central African Republic is working to bring back stability to the country which has faced three army rebellions. The mission's tasks, under the Bangui Agreements, include the formation of a Government of national union, the adoption of an amnesty law covering offenses committed during the third rebellion and the situation of former heads of State. All these tasks have been implemented. The mission is in the process of disarming the armed factions in the country.

MISAB receives logistical and technical support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It is also supported by the participating States, France, and the Government of the Central African Republic. The mission was previously supported by the Organization of African Unity.

Members of the International Monitoring Committee of MISAB, report to the Security Council at least every month, in accordance with a Council resolution adopted last year.


The United Nations has decided to send a technical team to Sierra Leone, where a democratically elected government was overthrown by the military last year.

The team, which will be led by Francis Okelo, the Special Envoy for the Secretary-General, is expected to go to the country on Friday.

A United Nations Spokesman said that the purpose of the team's mission, is to assess the conditions on the ground. The team will then submit recommendations to the Secretary-General on the role of the United Nations in the implementation of the peace accord in Sierra Leone.

The Secretary-General will incorporate those recommendations into his second sixty-day report on Sierra Leone which he is scheduled to submit to the Security Council by 8 February.

Sierra Leone, which is facing regional sanctions, is ruled by a military junta which overthrew the democratically elected Government of President Tejan Kabbah on 25 May 1997.


Denmark has become the second Member State to pay in full its assessed contribution to the regular budget of the United Nations for 1998.

A United Nations spokesman said on Wednesday the United Nations received a cheque for $7.2 million from Denmark.

In a related development, Germany has made a partial payment of over $50 million which represents almost half of its assessed contribution.

The outstanding contributions to the United Nations still exceed $3. billion. Of this amount, roughly 1.6 billion is for the regular budget and over 1.5 billion is for peace-keeping.


For information purposes only - - not an official record

From the United Nations home page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org


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