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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-06-01

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, June 1, 2000

SPECIAL ENVOY MEETS LEBANESE PRESIDENT, PRIME MINISTER

This afternoon in Beirut, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, Terje Roed Larsen, and his full team of cartographers and other experts, met with Lebanese President Emile Lahoud and Prime Minister Selim el-Hoss, who were accompanied by their advisers.

The meeting was devoted to technical issues having to do with the identification of the "practical line" corresponding to the international border of Lebanon, for the purpose of withdrawing Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in compliance with Security Council Resolutions 425 and 426 (1978).

The meeting was adjourned after two hours to allow the cartographers and other experts to revisit portions of the withdrawal line. For the past two days, Lebanese and UN experts have jointly been inspecting the border in an effort to identify the practical line on the ground.

Larsen will meet again with President Lahoud and Prime Minister Hoss on Friday, at a time to be determined.

The situation on the ground remains calm. The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) today reported that the Lebanese Government has set up permanent gendarmerie posts in several southern Lebanese towns, and that Lebanese customs officials were active in the town of Marjayoun.

UNHCR MOUNTING ASSISTANCE PROGRAM IN ERITREA

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has mounted an assistance program for thousands of Eritreans, following reports that more than 150,000 people uprooted by the recent fighting between Ethiopia and Eritrea are scattered along Eritrea's border with Sudan. Many of those refugees lack adequate food and water, UNHCR says.

UNHCR is already deploying staff to the region to coordinate relief efforts inside Eritrea, but staff in Asmara is awaiting confirmation of Ethiopia's announcement that its troops will withdraw from Eritrea so that it can have unhindered access to the displaced population.

So far, UNHCR has registered around 41,000 Eritreans who are seeking asylum in Sudan, while thousands more camped along the border are expected to arrive in Sudan once their provisions run out.

In addition, the agency reports that some 450 people displaced by the fighting, mostly Eritrean, have arrived by boat in Yemen and another 250 have traveled over land to Djibouti.

The Ethiopian and Eritrean Governments are currently in their third day of proximity talks in Algiers, under the auspices of the Chair of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The Security Council is expected to take up the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict next week.

SIERRA LEONE MISSION REPORTS FIGHTING IN LUNSAR

The UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) said today that the town of Lunsar, about 50 miles west of the capital, Freetown, was in the hands of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) following heavy fighting with the Sierra Leone Army on Wednesday.

There continue to be no reports of fighting involving UN troops. However, on Wednesday night, UN troops came across a group of people trying to steal fuel in the port area. The group opened fire when challenged by the UN patrol, and the patrol returned fire, killing one of the group.

The UN Mission reported today that it hoped for a resolution shortly of the situation in Kailahun and Kuiva, where the movement of more than 250 UN troops has been restricted by the RUF.

Emergency feeding of some 25,000 displaced persons in the Port Loko area continues to be carried out by the World Food Programme.

ANNAN PARTICIPATES IN TELEVISED FORUM IN ATLANTA

Secretary-General Kofi Annan took part in the 20th anniversary celebration of CNN in Atlanta, Georgia, today, which began with a breakfast with former United States President Jimmy Carter.

The Secretary-General was the featured guest in a one-hour CNN program, "Global Forum," which was broadcast live. The show will be rebroadcast on Sunday at 2 p.m. EDT.

Introduced as the "reigning diplomatic heavyweight champion of the world," the Secretary-General responded to a number of questions on peacekeeping, peacemaking and sanctions.

Asked about the recent crisis in Sierra Leone, the Secretary-General reminded the audience that the United Nation's response has been to reinforce itself as a way to dissuade those who think they can intimidate peacekeepers.

Annan is scheduled to meet Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy before flying back to New York, where he is expected to arrive in the evening.

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS TWO MISSIONS

There is no Security Council meeting scheduled for today. Instead, the President of the Council for the month of June, Ambassador Jean-David Levitte of France, is holding bilateral consultations with Council members to determine the program of work for this month.

France will maintain a web site on the work of the Council Presidency this month, in English and French (http://www.un.int/france/sc/presidencysc).

On Wednesday afternoon, the Security Council voted to extend two peacekeeping missions: the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) on the Golan Heights and the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

The Council unanimously voted in favor of extending the Disengagement Observer Force until the end of November, and also issued a Presidential Statement concerning the Golan Heights.

It then voted to support a two-month extension of the Western Sahara Mission, by a vote of 12 in favor, one against (Namibia) and two abstentions (Mali and Jamaica).

The Council is expected to discuss the program of work for June on Friday, and it may also hear a briefing from Carla del Ponte, the Prosecutor of the two International Criminal Tribunals, who arrives in New York today.

JOURNALIST SENTENCED BY RWANDA TRIBUNAL

In Arusha, Tanzania, today, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda sentenced Georges Ruggiu, a former journalist and broadcaster of Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), to 12 years in prison.

Ruggiu, who had initially pleaded not guilty, had entered a plea of guilty to two counts of Direct and Public Incitement to Commit Genocide and Crimes against Humanity on May 15.

He was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the first count and to 12 years for the second count. The Trial Chamber decided that he should serve his multiple sentences concurrently.

He is the eighth accused person to be convicted by the Tribunal and the third to plead guilty to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Rwanda in 1994.

ANNAN NOTES POSITIVE DEVELOPMENTS IN CYPRUS

On Wednesday, the Security Council received the Secretary-General's latest report on Cyprus, which notes that the situation along the ceasefire lines has remained stable over the past six months.

The Secretary-General says in his report that contacts between Greek and Turkish Cypriots have increased in recent months, and he also notes the "welcome decision by the Turkish Cypriot authorities to lift unnecessarily onerous measures affecting visits to the Greek Cypriots and Maronites in the north."

The third round of proximity talks on Cyprus, which was originally scheduled for May 23 in New York, will now be held on July 5 in Geneva; the round had been postponed in deference to health considerations involving His Excellency Glafcos Clerides.

The Secretary-General also recommends a six-month extension, until December 15, of the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus; that mission is currently set to expire on June 15.

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OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Following the briefing, in response to questions, the Spokesman said that the UN Observer Mission in Georgia was conducting a search effort in the Kadori Valley in the Abkhazia region to look for five people -- two UN military observers, one local interpreter and two members of a non-governmental organization -- who were reported as missing earlier today. Local authorities and the Commonwealth of Independent States are assisting the search effort.

Asked about a complaint by the Taliban that Uzbekistan was violating the airspace of Afghanistan, the Spokesman noted after the briefing that the Taliban had complained to the UN Special Mission for Afghanistan but that the Mission was unable to confirm or deny the Taliban's allegations.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) today announced that it received a donation of $28.6 million from Japan. The contribution will support polio eradication in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Nigeria and Sudan, which are six of the 30 priority countries where the disease continues to threaten millions of children.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) today announced this year's winners of the UNEP Global 500 Award for outstanding achievement in environmental protection. The 14 winners include an aboriginal community in Australia, two journalists from Spain and the United States and a wildlife orphanage in South Africa. They will be officially recognized on Sunday, June 4, at a special award ceremony in Adelaide, Australia. The event, hosted by UNEP and the Australian Government, is part of the celebration of World Environment Day.

On Friday, there will be several press conferences, beginning at 10:30 a.m. with a briefing by General Assembly President Theo-Ben Gurirab and other speakers on next week's General Assembly special session, "Women 2000." Then at 12:30 p.m., Carla del Ponte, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, will talk to the press after addressing the Security Council. At 3 p.m., Fawzi al-Sultan, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), will talk about the Fund's recent gender mainstreaming activities.

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