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United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-02-10

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


Wednesday, 10 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.


  • Security Council demands immediate halt to fighting between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
  • UN special envoy welcomes efforts of Sierra Leonean President to end conflict.
  • Head of United Nations HIV/AIDS programme supports large-scale human vaccine tests in Thailand.
  • UN Food and Agriculture Organization warns of dangers posed by outbreak of animal diseases in Iraq. * Experts gather at UN to discuss impact of longevity on cities and villages.

The Security Council on Wednesday demanded that Ethiopia and Eritrea put an immediate halt to fighting, in particular the use of air strikes, and resume diplomatic efforts to peacefully resolve their conflict.

By a unanimous vote, the Council expressed its grave concern about the border dispute between the two countries and condemned their recourse to the use of force.

The Council stressed that the Framework Agreement, as approved by the Central Organ Summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, and Resolution on 17 December 1998, remained a viable and sound basis for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. The Security Council expressed its full support for the efforts of the OAU, the UN Secretary-General and his Special Envoy for Africa, and concerned Member States to find a peaceful resolution to the present hostilities. The Council strongly urged all States to end immediately all sales of arms and munitions to Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Earlier, the Council had been briefed by Ambassador Mohamed Sahnoun, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy in Africa, who had recently returned from a mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea. Speaking at a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York, Ambassador Sahnoun said that military build-up on both sides over the last few months had reached such a proportion that "we might be witnessing soon the first high tech-war in Africa." He said that both sides had purchased sophisticated airplanes for bombing purposes.

Ambassador Sahnoun said that the conflict between the two neighbours in the Horn of Africa was a "disaster." He recalled that Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other world leaders had called on both parties to cease hostilities immediately and give a diplomatic solution a chance. The alternative he added, would be a full-scale war with horrendous destruction and repercussions in the region.

A special envoy of the UN Secretary-General has welcomed the recent statement by President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone, in which the Sierra Leonean leader outlined steps to end the conflict in his country.

A United Nations spokesman said on Wednesday that Special Representative of the Secretary-General Francis Okelo characterized President Kabbah's address to the nation on 7 February as a "significant breakthrough" in the efforts towards resolving the Sierra Leonean conflict.

According to the spokesman, Mr. Okelo highlighted four important areas mentioned by President Kabbah: direct dialogue between the government and the rebel leaders, a face-to-face meeting of rebel leader Foday Sankoh and his followers, the use of the Abidjan peace accord as the frame of reference for a peaceful settlement and close involvement of civil society in the formulation of a framework for dialogue with the rebels.

Thailand's decision to authorize large-scale human testing of an experimental AIDS vaccine has received support from the joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

Dr. Peter Piot, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, said the trial would provide important information on how this vaccine and others worked and how to improve their efficacy. It would also help build the foundation for future vaccine clinical trials in the developing world.

The trial will test the AIDS/VAX vaccine developed by a California- based company, VaxGen, Inc., which began large-scale trials in the United States last June. The Thai trial will involve 2,500 volunteers who are at higher risk of HIV infection because of intravenous drug use. The US trial involves 5,000 volunteers primarily at risk through sexual transmission.

The UN Food and Agriculture (FAO) on Wednesday expressed grave concern that the outbreak of animal diseases in Iraq might spread to other countries in the Near East and seriously undermine food security in the region.

In a press statement, the Rome-based FAO said that the multitude of diseases afflicting livestock in Iraq threatened the health of people living in infested areas. The diseases include the Old World screwworm, foot-and-mouth disease, peste des petits ruminants (PPR) and brucellosis. FAO added that except for brucellosis, which is endemic to the region, the other diseases might easily spread to neighbouring countries.

The UN agency said that Iraq would need to import vaccines to fight the food-and-mouth diseases and PPR. It said that procurement of the vaccines and their timely delivery, as vital to safeguarding animal health, which was an essential component of food security in the region.

FAO said that the animal disease situation in Iraq had been aggravated by the collapse of the veterinary infrastructure and disease investigation, surveillance and diagnostic services in the country. The government had been unable to adequately monitor and control the spread of these diseases, partly because of the difficulties in obtaining equipment and supplies, particularly vaccines. FAO noted that the Iraqi government had repeatedly sought the agency's assistance to deal with the outbreaks.

Experts from a variety of fields gathered at UN Headquarters on Wednesday to discuss the impact of longevity on cities and villages.

With the ageing of populations worldwide, the public sector is faced with demands to improve the standard of housing and provide decent living conditions for older generations. The UN meeting will focus on how to design suitable and accessible housing for people of all ages.

The event is held in observance of the International Year of Older Persons 1999 and is taking place parallel to the on-going session of the UN Commission for Social Development.

The discussion, which brings together experts in architecture, advertising, design, community planning, health, government, real estate development and technology, is organized by the International Council for Caring Communities, in collaboration with the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), the secretariat of the International Year of Older Persons and the UN Department of Public Information (DPI).

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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