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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-05-22

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:


Friday, 22 May, 1998

This daily news round-up is prepared by the Central News Section of the Department of Public Information. The latest update is posted at approximately 6:00 PM New York time.


  • Security Council strongly condemns attacks against United Nations and Government personnel in Angola.
  • Secretary-General expresses hope that outcome of referendums in Northern Ireland will herald new era of peace.
  • Head of UNICEF condemns atrocities in Sierra Leone and calls for international action to protect children.
  • Secretary-General says all nations should honour independence by giving people genuine human rights.
  • UN World Food Programme says greater numbers of southern Sudanese in desperate need of food aid.
  • Survey finds malnutrition among Iraqi children shows little improvement during past year.
  • Secretary-General's Special Representative for Georgia convenes meeting to discuss fighting in Gali.
  • Governments adopt reforms for United Nations Environment Programme.
  • United States Government pledges $22 million for UN programmes to assist refugees in four countries.
  • Head of UN Drug Control and Crime Prevention Office praises United Kingdom's new approach to addicts.
  • United Nations launches new web page on preparations for Rome Conference on proposed international criminal court.

The Security Council on Friday strongly condemned the armed attack in Angola on 19 May, against personnel from the United Nations and the Angolan National Police

In the attack on a UN patrol vehicle, a local interpreter was killed and three people were injured, including a military observer and a police officer with the United Nations Mission in Angola (MONUA) and a commander from the Angolan National Police.

In a Statement read out by its President, Njuguna M. Mahugu of Kenya, the Council also strongly condemned confirmed attacks by members of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) on MONUA and international personnel and Angolan national authorities. It demanded that the Government of Unity and National Reconciliation (GURN) and, in particular, UNITA guarantee unconditionally the safety and freedom of movement of all UN and other international personnel.

The Council strongly deplored UNITA's failure to implement its remaining obligations under the "Acordos de Paz", the Lusaka Protocol and relevant Council resolutions. It strongly deplored UNITA's failure to cooperate in completing normalization of State administration throughout the national territory, particularly in Andulo and Bailundo.

The Council expressed deep concern at the serious abuses committed by the Angolan National Police, particularly in areas recently transferred to State administration, as well as the recent increase in hostile propaganda.

A lack of progress in completing the remaining tasks of the peace process has led to a serious deterioration in the country's military and security situation, the Council said. And it called, in the strongest terms, on the Government and UNITA to refrain from any action which might lead to renewed hostilities or derail the peace process.

It also demanded that the Government and UNITA in particular, fulfil their obligations in accordance with the plan for the completion of the remaining tasks of the Lusaka Protocol by 31 May. The plan was submitted to the Joint Commission on 15 May by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Angola.

In that context, the Council reaffirmed its readiness to review measures specified in resolution 1127 of 28 August 1997 concerning travel restrictions on UNITA members and their families. It also reaffirmed its readiness to consider the imposition of additional measures, such as trade and financial restrictions in the case of non-compliance by UNITA.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday applauded "the courage and vision of all those who helped bring about the Peace Agreement on Northern Ireland," his Spokesman, Fred Eckhard, said. "He awaits the results of today's referendums with anticipation, in the hope that their outcome will herald a new era of peace and prosperity for the people of Northern Ireland," Mr. Eckhard added.

The referendums are being held in accordance with the Belfast Peace Accord. They call for a legislature for Northern Ireland, which would still have ties to the United Kingdom if the initiatives are adopted.

The Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Carol Bellamy, has expressed outrage at the latest reports of atrocities in Sierra Leone and called for concerted international action to protect children.

According to the UNICEF, the depravity of the atrocities has been escalating. Recent news stories describe how 17 civilians, including women and children, were brutally tortured and mutilated, some suffering amputation of their hands, ears, breasts and genitals.

In the past two weeks, over 300 people in Sierra Leone, many of them women and children, have been treated for wounds inflicted by armed men, remnants of the ousted Armed Forces of Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). UNICEF says the toll could be higher as the 300 known casualties only include those able to reach a hospital.

The rebels continue to operate in the eastern Kono district and in the north of the country. Last February, a Nigerian-led force, known as ECOMOG, pushed them from power in the capital Freetown and restored the democratically elected Government.

Ms. Bellamy welcomed the planned mission to Sierra Leone next week by Olara Otunnu, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. Mr. Otunnu's visit, she said, was an opportunity for the UN to work with the Government to implement its recent commitment to demobilize children in the Civil Defence Forces.

Ultimately, the struggle for independence, self-rule -- for the right of people to be a master of its own destiny -- is the struggle for human rights, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Friday.

The Secretary-General was addressing the Special Committee on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

This is the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of All Colonial Territories Fighting for Freedom, Independence and Human Rights.

While human rights begin with independence, they do not end there, he continued. "It is the solemn duty of all nations -- whether in Africa or Asia -- to honour their independence by rewarding their peoples with genuine human rights for all, including the right to development and all civil and political rights," the Secretary-General said.

In the 38 years since the adoption of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, he said, 64 former colonial Territories inhabited by more than 80 million people had gained independence and joined the UN as sovereign members.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday that hundreds of thousands more people than previously estimated are in desperate need of food aid throughout southern Sudan.

Following a meeting of aid agencies this week in Nairobi to review the latest field reports, the WFP revised the total number of people needing food aid in the country's southern areas from 700,000 to 930,000.

The WFP announced it would now target some 595,000 people in the hunger- stricken province of Bahr El Ghazal of whom 380,000 are in critical need of food aid for survival. This is a 40 per cent increase over the numbers targeted to date. Regions such as Eastern Equatorial and Western Upper Nile, while not as seriously affected as Bahr El Ghazal, are a cause for growing concern.

On 31 March, the Sudanese Government granted agencies access to areas in Bahr El Ghazal which had been off-limits for nearly two months. The deteriorating condition of people in the region led to a major emergency intervention.

The nutritional status of Iraqi children, more than a quarter of whom are malnourished, has failed to improve in the last year, according to a United Nations Spokesman.

Eric Falt, the Spokesman for the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, said on Thursday that approximately 27 per cent of children under 5 years were still suffering from chronic malnutrition, 9 per cent from acute malnutrition and 24 per cent were underweight.

The findings were the result of a survey carried out in March by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and Iraq's Ministry of Health. They show little improvement in the malnutrition levels of 12 months ago.

Mr. Falt expressed disappointment at the lack of substantial changes in malnutrition figures. However, he said, the survey showed that the constant deterioration of young children's nutritional status over the past seven years may have stabilized. "A complete reversal of the chronic malnutrition situation in Iraq will take years," he added.

The survey also showed that substantial improvement in the Iraqi population's nutritional status could only come with improvements in other areas, such as clean water and better sanitation, he said.

The Spokesman noted that 5 million metric tons of food had been brought into Iraq under the United Nations Oil-For-Food programme, whose benefits, he said, tend to be underestimated.

The United States Government has pledged some $22 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The pledges for the new funding came during an official visit to Washington, D.C., by the High Commissioner, Mrs. Sadako Ogata. Most of the money will go to finance programmes in Rwanda and Liberia, with $10 million earmarked for each country. In addition, $1 million was pledged to both Sierra Leone and Cambodia refugee relief programmes.

Mrs. Ogata was scheduled to meet on Friday with Julia Taft, the United States Assistant Secretary of State for Refugees and Migration, and Doris Melssner, the Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

On Wednesday, the High Commissioner met with the country's National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, as well as the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Brian Atwood, and the United States Special Envoy for the Balkans, Robert Gelbard.

Fighting in the Gali district in Georgia has prompted the Secretary- General's Special Representative for that country to chair a special meeting with representatives of the Georgian and Abkhaz delegations, as well as the Russian Federation, the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the group of Friends of the Secretary- General.

The meeting, known as the Coordination Council, decided to take steps to end the armed confrontation in the Gali district, and requested Special Representative Liviu Bota to hold consultations with the parties and others concerned. One of the aims of the talks will be to create a mechanism to investigate and prevent violations of the Moscow Agreement on a Ceasefire and Separation of Forces. It is also expected that the discussions will address the problem of subversive terrorist acts carried out in the conflict zone.

A special session of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on Friday adopted a series of reform proposals put forward by the UNEP Executive Director, Klaus Topfer.

"We have come to an atmosphere of constructive cooperation, partnership and common responsibility," said Mr. Topfer in his closing statement to the meeting, which was held in Nairobi. "In this atmosphere, we must try our utmost to develop UNEP, to make this institution once again the 'environmental voice' of the United Nations," he said.

Ministers and other senior government officials participating in the meeting called for the revitalization, reform and strengthening of UNEP. Responding to Mr. Topfer's detailed plans for a new UNEP structure, the Council's unanimous decision welcomed his proposals, which reflect new areas of concentration.

Under the proposals, UNEP will accord priority to environmental information, assessment and research. Efforts will be made to enhance the coordination of environmental conventions, including treaties to protect biodiversity and regulate hazardous waste. Another central concern of the Programme will be the world's freshwater resources. In addition, special attention will be paid to providing support to Africa.

The Council underscored the paramount importance of adequate and predictable funding for UNEP and called on all Governments to contribute according to their financial capabilities. Financial contributions to UNEP have declined in recent years, and its new Executive Director has indicated that he will work to restore the Environment Fund to at least its 1993 level of over $65 million.

The top United Nations official charged with global drug control and crime prevention has praised the United Kingdom's new approach to helping addicts.

"Mr. Arlacchi expressed great appreciation for the innovative approach of the United Kingdom's strategy, which aims to reconcile the two opposing forces of law enforcement and the rehabilitation of drug addicts," said his Spokesman, Sandro Tucci, who was interviewed in Vienna where the Office is based.

Also while in the United Kingdom, Mr. Pino Arlacchi addressed the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London on the subject of how to deal with drugs and organized crime in today's globalized world.

Mr. Arlacchi, who is Executive Director of the United Nations Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention, concluded an official trip to the United Kingdom on Friday. Over the course of his visit, he met with Keith Hellawell, the country's Anti-Drug Coordinator, and Ann Taylor, the President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons.

What is the working definition of genocide? How can States refer crimes against humanity to the proposed international criminal court? And what are the media arrangements for the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court (Rome, 15 June to 17 July)?

These and many other questions are answered on the new official United Nations website on the proposed court and the upcoming Rome Conference (

The website, which was launched on Friday, will be updated daily throughout the Conference. The daily programme, statements, press releases, documents, photographs and audio news will all be posted regularly.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

From the United Nations home page at <> - email:

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