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United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-02-02

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

DAILY HIGHLIGHTS

Tuesday, 2 February, 1999


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.

HEADLINES

  • Secretary-General says UN mission should stay on in Central African Republic to provide stability.
  • UN refugee agency describes "grim" humanitarian situation in Kosovo.
  • UN study finds new way to reduce risk of AIDS in newborns.
  • UN Foundation announces $31.7 million for programmes for children, women, population and environment.
  • Threat of flooding removed as UN helps repair dam in northern Iraq.


UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended that the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA), should stay on in the country until the presidential elections scheduled for the latter half of this year.

In his latest report to the Security Council on the mission, the Secretary- General says that MINURCA "has been and remains a source of much needed stability" in that country and the subregion as a whole.

Welcoming a letter addressed to him by President Ange F‚lix Patass‚ outlining the Government's commitments to carry out a number of reforms, the Secretary-General says they represent an indispensable condition for further progress. According to the Secretary-General, satisfactory action on these commitments could within a short time bring about such results as the participation of the opposition, adoption by the National Assembly of a budget and legislation to restructure the armed forces.

The Secretary-General suggests an initial extension of the MINURCA mandate for a period of six months until 31 August, subject to a further determination by the Security Council after three months that the Government has made acceptable progress in carrying out the reforms outlined in the President's letter.

In a related development, members of the Security Council were briefed on Tuesday by the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Hedi Annabi, who recently visited the Central African Republic as the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General.

Ambassador Michel Duval of Canada, which holds the presidency of the Council for the month of February, said that Council members welcomed the commitment made by President Patass‚ in his letter to the Secretary- General. Council members would in the coming days study a draft resolution to extend the mandate of MINURCA, Ambassador Duval added.


In the biggest wave of displacement in Europe since the Bosnian war, almost 20 per cent of Kosovo's pre-war population has been displaced or driven out of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The UN refugee agency said in Geneva on Tuesday that an estimated 210,000 people remained displaced within Kosovo, another 20,000 were in Albania and more than 30,000 in neighbouring Montenegro. Some 7,000 people had fled to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

UNHCR said that as diplomatic efforts to end the conflict in Kosovo intensified, the humanitarian situation on the ground continued to be grim. The agency estimated that fighting over the past month or so had driven 45, 000 people from 40 villages and had also affected Kosovo's Serbian minority population which officials said was dwindling as more people left. Last year, close to 100,000 Yugoslav nationals, mostly Kosovo Albanians, had sought asylum in western Europe, said UNHCR.

Although some of the people had trickled back to their homes, most of them were still displaced and frequent clashes prevented aid organizations from reaching those in need. Much of the improvement brought about by the October 27 ceasefire had now been wiped out by recurring hostilities, UNHCR said.


A new, simpler and less expensive strategy to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS is possible, according to new research findings announced by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

A UNAIDS study has found that if a HIV-positive mother begins an antiretroviral regimen (AZT or 3TC) at the time of delivery and she and her newborn continue it for just one week, the chances of the infant becoming infected are reduced significantly -- by 37 per cent.

Prior to this breakthrough, the shortest effective regimen began during the mother's thirty-sixth week of pregnancy -- three to four weeks before delivery.

The research findings presented on Monday at the Sixth Conference on Retroviruses in Chicago, hold out promise for reducing HIV infection among babies in the developing world, where women often don't visit a hospital or health clinic until very late in their pregnancy.

According to Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS, over half a million babies are infected with HIV every year, most of them in sub- Saharan Africa, where access to health care can be limited.

The clinical trial was carried out in five urban settings in South Africa, Uganda and Tanzania and is the largest to ever examine mother-to- child transmission.


The United Nations Foundation, which administers Ted Turner's gift of $1 billion in support of UN causes, has announced a new round of grants.

At its January meeting, the UN Foundation Board approved 25 grants with a total value of $31.7 million for its four programme priorities -- child health, population and women, the environment, and other selected UN causes.

Among the projects receiving funding are efforts aimed at the eradication of female genital mutilation in Kenya, AIDS prevention in Ukraine, responsible fatherhood in Central America, conflict resolution in the Southern Caucasus and legal empowerment for indigenous people in Central America. Grants will also go to landmine clearance and the development of an electronic (CD-ROM and web-based) UN atlas of the oceans.

One year after it began operations, the UN Foundation has made three rounds of grants, bringing total first-year commitments for UN causes to almost $90 million. It works in collaboration with the UN Fund for International Partnership, the central coordinating mechanism established by Secretary- General Kofi Annan.


A $3.28 million United Nations project has completed emergency repairs to a major hydroelectric dam in northern Iraq, removing a danger of flooding in the region downstream.

Under the UN's oil-for-food programme, repairs were made to three spillway gates on the Derbendikan Dam on the Diyala river, an upper tributary of the Tigris. The spillway gates, which leaked badly and did not function properly, posed a threat to the hydroelectric power station, and potentially, to a downstream dam and population.

The gates were removed early in the conflict between Iran and Iraq to prevent deliberate flooding and repair work was left unfinished due to the Persian Gulf War and the sanctions which followed.

The repairs will enable the dam to function as designed -- controlling the quantity of water delivered downstream for irrigation and generating electricity at its rated 249 megawatts once further work is completed.

Work to rehabilitate hydroelectric facilities in northern Iraq is carried out by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the United Nations Development Programme.


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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