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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-08-15

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

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MANOEL DE ALMEIDA E SILVA
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, August 15, 2000

(Press "Ctrl + R" or click on "reload" to ensure you have the latest summary)


ANNAN ANNOUNCES RESUMPTION OF RELIEF FLIGHTS TO SUDAN

  • Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement read by the Spokesman, announced that the United Nations would resume on Wednesday all humanitarian relief flights throughout the Sudan. He welcomed the assurances that he received from Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir that all measures are being taken to ensure the safety of Operation Lifeline Sudan relief personnel and aircraft.

  • The Secretary-General said he trusted that the Government of the Sudan and other parties to the conflict will continue to honor fully their commitment to ensure the safety and security of relief workers and also of the vulnerable populations whose urgent needs are being addressed. Last Tuesday, the Secretary-General announced the temporary suspension of relief flights to Sudan following the repeated bombing of the southern town of Mapel, near facilities run by the World Food Programme and UN Children's Fund.


ANNAN APPOINTS PANEL ON DR OF CONGO'S NATURAL RESOURCES

  • The Secretary-General has appointed the chairperson and four panel members of a panel to deal with the illegal exploitation of natural resources and other forms of wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

  • He has named Safiatou Ba-N'Daw of Cote d'Ivoire, a former Minister of Energy and former senior World Bank official, as the chairperson of the panel. The four panel members will be Francois Ekoko of Cameroon, Moustapha Tall of Senegal, Henri Maire of Switzerland and Mel Holt of the United States.

  • In its Presidential Statement of last June 2, the Security Council requested that the Secretary-General would establish an expert panel to examine the issue of resource exploitation in the DRC.

  • The panel is to convene in New York for an initial briefing, but its base of operations after that will be Nairobi. They are to submit, through the Secretary-General, a preliminary report to the Security Council within three months containing its initial findings, and a final report with recommendations once its work is completed.

  • Asked about reports on the breakdown of talks on the DRC in Lusaka, Zambia, the Spokesman said the United Nations is awaiting firsthand information of the results of those talks. "If there was a breakdown in the talks, we regret that, but we have to see," he said, adding that reports indicate that most heads of state present agreed on the role of the UN Mission and that of the Neutral Facilitator, former President Ketumile Masire of Botswana.


SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON POLICE RESTRUCTURING IN BOSNIA

  • This morning, the Security Council began its open meeting on Bosnia and Herzegovina with a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bernard Miyet, who noted the progress made by the UN Mission in that country on police restructuring.

  • The UN Mission, he said, has stepped up efforts to ensure adequate minority representation in the Bosnian police forces, by recruiting minority cadets for police academies and redeploying minority officers between Bosnia's entities. So far, nearly 450 minority graduates are currently attending or have graduated Bosnia's police academies, while 130 minority officers have been identified for redeployment across the lines of the entities.

  • Among those redeployed officers is a Bosniac police officer who joined the police force in Srebrenica this week; other Bosniac officers may also be assigned to Srebrenica in the near future.

  • Miyet also told the Council that minority return movements are progressing across Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the past six months, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees registered more than 19,500 minority returns in Bosnia and Herzegovina, compared to just over 2,000 returns registered during the same period last year.

  • On Wednesday, the Council expects to hold consultations on Somalia.


AFGHAN AIRLINE CLEARED TO FLY CHILDREN TO GERMANY

  • The Security Council's Sanctions Committee on Afghanistan has cleared Ariana airlines, which operates in Taliban-controlled areas, to fly sick and injured children to Dusseldorf, Germany, for medical help.

  • The Sanctions Committee decided last Friday afternoon to grant an exemption from the sanctions regime imposed against the Taliban last year -- which includes restrictions on most flights by Ariana airlines -- to allow the flight from Kabul to Dusseldorf on Wednesday. On the way, the plane will also pick up sick children in Tajikistan, Armenia and Georgia.

  • The plane will then leave Dusseldorf on August 19, arriving in Kabul on the following day.


KOSOVO REPRESENTATIVE NOTES UN TAKEOVER OF POLLUTING PLANT

  • The Secretary-General's Special Representative for Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, today briefed the Interim Administrative Council on the actions taken Monday by the UN Mission and the Kosovo Force (KFOR) to take responsibility for the Zvecan smelter. The plant had been linked to atmospheric lead levels in northern Mitrovica that were 200 times levels recommended by the World Health Organisation.

  • Three KFOR soldiers were reported lightly injured when a group of Serbs resisted the effort by the UN Mission to take control of the plant. There was also a small demonstration reported at Zvecan this morning.

  • Kouchner said that the UN Mission hoped to repair the smelter as soon as possible, to make it environmentally acceptable. He noted that Monday, some 20 workers at the smelter agreed to take blood tests. By today, some 100 workers at the plant had received advance compensation for the month of August, while the UN Mission works to improve the plant's environmental standards.


RUSSIAN HELICOPTERS OPERATIONAL IN SIERRA LEONE

  • The UN Mission's human rights officers travelled to the town of Bo and its vicinity, where they confirmed reports of Civilian Defence Force (CDF) harassment of civilian population suspected of having belonged to, or been sympathetic to, the Revolutionary United Front. Human rights officers are scheduled to meet with the CDF leadership later this week in an effort to put a stop to this type of behavior.


HEAD OF IRAQ PROGRAMME ACKNOWLEDGES SHORTCOMINGS

  • The head of the Office of the Iraq Programme, Benon Sevan, gave press conference in Baghdad today, acknowledging shortcomings of oil-for-food program. He also noted Iraq's urgent needs for trucks and other transports to cope with supplies that are arriving, and the impact of "holds" placed by the Security Council Sanctions Committee.

  • Sevan made those comments at the end of a 16-day visit to Iraq.

  • The current weekly update from the Iraq Programme says that the total value of holds is currently $1.74 billion. Iraq's exports last week were 14.2 million barrels, for an estimated revenue of around $348 million. The total revenue for Phase VIII of the "oil-for-food" program is $2.9 billion.


UNHCR REPORTS MORE DEPARTURES BY ANGOLAN REFUGEES

  • Today's briefing notes from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) notes that the departures of refugees from Angola into neighboring countries continues to intensify, with Zambia receiving between 500 and 1,000 Angolans each month for the past four months.

  • Last week, UNHCR says, 288 Angolans -- mostly women and children in poor condition -- crossed into Zambia's North Western Province. Some of them only wore T-shirts, and had eaten only the wild fruit that they could find during their journey. There are an estimated 22,000 Angolan refugees currently in Zambia.

  • Namibia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have also recorded large numbers of Angolans arriving from across the border. More than 6,000 Angolans have fled into northern Namibia since last November, while three neighboring provinces in the DRC host a total of some 102,000 Angolans.


OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • In Geneva today, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination heard a discussion on the protection of the Roma, a group of people who number over 15 million and are dispersed across the world. That meeting follows a discussion held Monday night by the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, during which the question of the Roma was raised. The Committee will also discuss the Roma on Wednesday.

  • The United Nations Childrenís Fund announced in Tehran today that it will provide $75,000 to combat the effects of the devastating drought, the worst to have hit the region in 30 years. The money will be used to provide safe drinking water in the worst hit areas of the country. Recently, a UN assessment team reported that more than 50 percent of Iranís population has been affected by the drought.

  • This morning, Turkey signed the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. With these signings by Turkey, there are now 62 signatories and 142 parties to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and 61 signatories and 144 parties to the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

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