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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-01-21

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

DAILY HIGHLIGHTS

Wednesday, 21 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

  • Head of United Nations weapons inspectors says he cannot agree with Iraq's request to freeze work.
  • United Nations Secretary-General welcomes recent increase in cooperation with Congo-Kinshasa.
  • United Nations food agency unable to truck supplies to key flood-affected regions of Kenya.
  • Violence against women is on the rise in Croatia, according to official addressing UN committee.
  • International Labour Organization and International Olympic Committee join efforts to combat child labour.
  • Seminar for personnel training United Nations peacekeepers opens in Singapore.


The head of United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq has said that he could not agree to Iraq's request to freeze inspections of presidential and sovereign sites in the country.

The Executive Chairman of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), Ambassador Richard Butler was speaking at a press conference in Baghdad after his meeting with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz on Wednesday.

Ambassador Butler told the Iraqi official that he could not agree to the request unless the Security Council gave him different instructions. In his words, the Iraqi request "flies in the face of the Council's decision". The head of UNSCOM said he could not predict what the Security Council would make of that.

The technical evaluation talks, aimed at assessing progress in dismantling Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, are scheduled for February. All the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany are expected to participate in those talks. Iraq believed that the talks would produce positive results, but Ambassador Butler expressed his doubts about that. He pointed out that Iraq had not offered any new information regarding its weapons of mass destruction, in particular biological weapons.

Ambassador Butler left Baghdad on Wednesday for Bahrain and is expected to give a full report to the Security Council in New York on Friday.


United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has welcomed the recent increase in cooperation between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and United Nations agencies, according to a United Nations Spokesman.

Commenting on Mr. Annan's meeting on Tuesday afternoon with the country's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Andre Mwamba Kapanga, Spokesman Fred Eckhard said the Secretary-General hoped that the cooperation would continue and was looking forward to some high level visit to Congo-Kinshasa by heads of United Nations agencies.

As an example of United Nations agencies' activities in the country, Mr. Eckhard noted that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had facilitated the secondment of Congolese nationals from the United Nations system worldwide to return home to assist in the reconstruction.

The Secretary-General expressed concern, however, that with the reshuffling of the Government by President Laurent Kabila, the human rights investigative team currently in the country still did not have a clear ministerial contact person. The team is in Congo-Kinshasa to probe allegations of massacres during the conflict which toppled President Mobutu Seseko.


The United Nations food agency is unable to truck supplies to key flood- affected regions of Kenya, according to a new situation report of the United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA).

Torrential rains have damaged Kenya's infrastructure, severing road links between Nairobi and Garissa, where the air base of the World Food Programme (WFP) is located. Garissa is central to the humanitarian response to flood emergencies in both Kenya and Somalia. It is also the main base used to dispatch food and other supplies for 125,000 refugees at Dadaab camp. Currently, no stocks of food or aviation fuel can be trucked by WFP to Garissa.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) is assisting Kenya in its response to the outbreak of Rift Valley Fever there. WHO has helped the Kenyan Government set up a rapid response team to investigate the situation. The team will collect samples on the disease, improve surveillance of its spread, and elaborate guidelines for heath education.

Kenya will also benefit from a new $1.9 million pilot programme to alleviate poverty. Provided by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the funds will be directed to the three districts of Isiolo, Narok and Suba, which all face severe poverty. The project aims to foster employment and rural development.


The number of criminal acts involving physical or sexual violence against women is on the rise in Croatia, a representative of that country told the Committee charged with monitoring the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women on Wednesday.

Lidija Karajkovic, Croatia's Assistant Minister of Justice, said that statistics indicated that criminal attacks on the "life and limb" of women went up by some 11 per cent in 1997 over the previous year. She said that the majority of the aggrieved women suffered serious bodily injury. The highest rise of violence against women fell under the category of "violent behaviour against women", which saw a 151 per cent rise over 1996 figures.

"In order to get a more complete picture of the physical violence against women, we should bear in mind the so-called 'dark figure' in the area of light injuries inflicted upon women," Ms. Karajkovic stated. The number of women suffering from sexual harassment was also on the rise, she said. Charges were pressed against only 50 per cent of the perpetrators.

In response, the Government had amended the penal laws with a view to reducing the incidence of violence against women, she said. "The biggest progress has been achieved in placing sanctions against rape in marriage; marriage is not an alibi for violence."

Experts on the 18-member Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women spoke in favour of Croatia's new laws against marital rape, but expressed concern about the trends in violence in the country.


The fight against child labour received new impetus this week as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) signed a cooperation agreement with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to combat that scourge.

Under the agreement, the two organizations pledged to encourage activities "which contribute to the elimination of poverty and child labour". Additionally, the ILO and the IOC pledged to work together for the "development of individual potential of creative talents and productive skills".

A joint ILO/IOC working group will be established shortly to develop a programme of mutual cooperation, according to the agreement.

"As a social force in the modern era, the Olympic Movement is deeply concerned by the issues related to youth, in particular with regard to their ability to pursue an education and to live in conditions of dignity," said IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch. Noting that the two organizations had cooperated on social policy initiatives since the start of the century, he said, "we look forward to continued joint initiatives to promote, through sport, the development and welfare of disadvantaged children in the world".

The Director-General of the ILO, Michel Hansenne, said "it is incumbent on organizations such as ours to forge new alliances and to develop new strategies against the poverty and exploitation which rob so many of their youth and of their future".

The cooperation agreement was signed in Lausanne on Monday.


A seminar for personnel who train United Nations peacekeepers opened in Singapore on Wednesday.

The United Nations Training Assistance Team Seminar is being attended by representatives of 15 Member States. They will be trained as members of a team which assists the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations in its training of personnel. Among the topics being addressed at the Seminar are guidelines and principles governing peacekeeping operations as well as the training of staff officers, military observers and civilian police.

This is the first seminar of its kind in the Asia-Pacific region. Previous seminars have been held in Sweden, Canada, Brazil and Ghana.


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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