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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-02-13

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 FROM THE NOON BRIEFING

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, February 13, 2001

UN REPORTS 50 PERCENT INCREASE IN PALESTINIAN POVERTY RATE

The Palestinian areas have seen an increase of 50 percent in the poverty rate since the beginning of the current conflict, according to an updated UN report on the social and economic impact of the continuing violence and the closure policy on the Palestinian economy. The report was released today by Terje Roed-Larsen, the Secretary-Generals Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

In releasing the summary of his findings at a press conference in Gaza, Roed-Larsen said the report estimates that the Palestinian economy has suffered losses in its gross domestic product (GDP) of over $900 million since the beginning of the crisis.

Border closures and restrictions on internal mobility put in place by the Israeli Government have pushed the average unemployment rate in the Palestinian areas to 38 percent, as compared to 11 percent before the start of the conflict.

Larsen said the economic situation is contributing to the continuing violence and instability. "Security cannot be built on uncertainty; peace cannot be built on anger," he said.

The closure policy had been counterproductive, detrimental to Israels legitimate security interests and damaging to the Palestinian economy and society, he said.

SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS BRIEFING ON KOSOVO

The Security Council today held an open meeting on Kosovo, in which Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean Marie Guéhenno told the Council that developing a framework for elections and provisional self-government in Kosovo is complex and should not be rushed. Guéhenno said, "Hasty decisions may set the Mission on a course from which it is difficult to deviate."

He said that the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has also set as priorities the establishment of effective law enforcement, the start of a regular dialogue with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the resolution of legal property issues. He also noted the recent demonstrations in Mitrovica and an apparent rise in attacks on Kosovo Serbs.

Guéhenno said that discussions are continuing with the Yugoslav Government, as well as Serbian and ethnic Albanian leaders, to take measures to stop displacement and encourage returns to the Presevo Valley in southern Serbia.

Following brief informal consultations this morning, the President of the Security Council, Ambassador Saïd Ben Mustapha of Tunisia, read statements to reporters on Haiti and on Afghanistan, both of which the Council discussed on Monday.

At 3:30 this afternoon, the Council is scheduled to hold consultations on Libya, at the request of the Non-Aligned Movement.

ANNAN TO SEND MISSION TO WEST AFRICA NEXT MONTH

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his address to a closed meeting of the Security Council Monday afternoon with a visiting delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), announced that he would be sending a multi-disciplinary mission to the region from March 7 to 26.

The purpose of the mission is to identify the priority needs in the areas of peace and security, regional cooperation, humanitarian affairs and economic and social development.The mission will consult with governments and with the ECOWAS Secretariat on ways and means of enhancing cooperation.

Recommendations on elements of a regional strategy are expected to emerge from the mission.

UN COMMANDER, REBEL LEADER MEET IN SIERRA LEONE

A high-level meeting between the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) took place Monday in the town of Makeni in northern Sierra Leone. The UN delegation was led by Force Commander Lt. Gen. Daniel Opande, while that of the RUF was led by Issa Sesay.

Among the main issues raised by the UN side was the return of weapons and equipment seized from the UN Mission by the RUF during the May 2000 crisis. The RUF for its part called for the formation of an interim Government and the simultaneous disarmament of all parties to the conflict.

After the meeting, the RUF handed over 56 weapons, communications equipment, and nine vehicles seized from the UN Mission. [In response to a question, the Spokesman noted after the briefing that the weapons appeared to be in reasonable condition, but the vehicles had been stripped.]

The two delegations also visited Makeni Hospital, where they confirmed that Cpl. Robert Wanyama of Kenya had died there of gunshot wounds on May 9, 2000. They then traveled to Magburaka where the UN delegation was shown the graves of two Kenyan soldiers who died when their armored personnel carrier fell off a bridge during the May crisis.

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Sierra Leone, Oluyemi Adeniji, is in New York and will brief the Security Council Wednesday morning.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Ruud Lubbers, who is on a tour of West Africa, today arrived in Sierra Leone after completing a two-day visit to Guinea, where he concentrated on finding a humanitarian solution for tens of thousands of refugees in the countrys southwest. Lubbers met with senior UN Mission officials to discuss the issue of access to refugees and safe corridors for refugees in an area of Sierra Leone where shelling is still reported and roads are inaccessible.

ANNAN WELCOMES CALM AT CONFRONTATION LINES IN CONGO

The Secretary-General, in his latest report to the Security Council on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), deplored the outbreaks of communal violence in Bunia and South Kivu in the east, but added that he is heartened by the calm at the confrontation lines that divide the hostile forces in the country.

He noted equally hopeful signs, which await clarification, that the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo may be willing to accept the role of former Botswanan President Ketumile Masire, the neutral facilitator appointed pursuant to the Lusaka Agreement to help bring all Congolese together to discuss their country's governance.

Amid such grounds for cautious optimism, the Secretary-General said, the United Nations should be ready to advance at least with small steps and he noted a revised concept of operations designed to equip the UN Mission to assist the parties in carrying out the disengagement of their forces. He urged the Council to adopt the draft concept for a 3,000-strong force.

UN RELIEF COORDINATOR BEGINS VISIT TO AFGHANISTAN

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kenzo Oshima arrived in Kabul today for a three-day visit to Afghanistan. Oshima is in the country at the request of the Secretary-General to assess the current humanitarian situation on the ground and to mobilize donor assistance for the emergency needs of the Afghans, both inside Afghanistan and in Pakistan.

Oshima arrived in Kabul from Pakistan, where he met with Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar to discuss the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and its impact on Pakistan. The discussion also touched on the needs in Pakistan as a result of the drought affecting Baluchistan and Sind provinces.

The Secretary-Generals Personal Representative for Afghanistan, Francesc Vendrell, is in Washington, D.C. today for a series of meetings with U.S. officials. On the list of subjects to be discussed will be the recent decision by the U.S. authorities to close the Taliban liaison office in New York.

TOP UN DEVELOPMENT OFFICIAL BEGINS VISIT TO INDIA

Mark Malloch Brown, the Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), today began a four-day trip to India, by visiting the newly-created state of Uttaranchal, where he is touring villages and discussing decentralization and governance, among other issues.

Malloch Brown's visit to India will also include a trip Wednesday to the state of Orissa, to see community-based projects dealing with natural disaster preparedness, which were put in place following last year's cyclone. On Thursday, he will visit Tamil Nadu, and then on Friday, he will meet with Prime Minister Atul Behari Vajpayee and other senior officials.

UNDP is also stepping up its response to the earthquake that hit the western state of Gujarat, with Omar Bakhet, Director of UNDP's Emergency Response Division, set to visit that area on Wednesday and Thursday to look at medium- and long-term needs. UNDP is seeking $11 million for housing and economic support for those affected by the earthquake, and is also supporting a network of 5,000 volunteers who are carrying out needs assessment and aid coordination.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) announced today that, over the past two days, it has begun a campaign to deliver measles vaccine and Vitamin A to children in the quake zone. Already, UNICEF said, more than 14,000 children under the age of five have been reached.

IRAQI GOVERNMENT SUBMITS "OIL-FOR-FOOD" DISTRIBUTION PLAN

According to the weekly update from the Office of the Iraq Programme (OIP), the Government of Iraq has now submitted its distribution plan for Phase IX of the "oil-for-food" program, which began on December 6, 2000.

A foreseen budget of more than $5.55 billion for the humanitarian program is spread over 12 sectors, including an allocation of $600 million for oil industry spare parts and $387 million to meet the needs of especially vulnerable groups.

Over $1.27 billion is earmarked for the food sector, to cover a daily food ration of 2,472 kilocalories per person per day, while $300 million is set aside for the purchase of medicines and medical supplies.

The plan has now been forwarded to the Secretary-General. Once approved, it will become the basis for the Government of Iraq to purchase humanitarian supplies and oil industry spare parts and equipment during Phase IX, which ends on June 3.

The week that ended on February 9 registered the lowest level of Iraqi oil exports under the "oil-for-food" program. A total of 1.6 million barrels were lifted through two loadings, raising an estimated 43 million euros in revenue. Iraq has exported 55.3 million barrels of oil, earning over 1.26 billion euros at current prices in Phase IX.

UN MILITARY OBSERVER ARRESTED FOR SMUGGLING

In response to questions, the Spokesman noted that a Pakistani military observer for the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who was leaving Africa to return to his home country, was stopped in Nairobi, Kenya, and found to have ivory and other objects that were not to be removed from the country.

Eckhard noted that diplomatic immunity generally applies only to UN personnel as they carry out their official work, and even then would generally be waived in cases of criminal offenses. The military observer, who was out of the mission area, was arrested and tried.

If violations occur in mission areas, he added, the United Nations would bring up the matter with national Governments, who are ultimately responsible for the acts of peacekeeping personnel.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

In response to a question, the Spokesman confirmed that the Secretary-General would meet U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. Powell had requested a meeting before the Secretary-General's visit to Washington, D.C., anticipated later this month.

The Spokesman, asked about the 3:00 p.m. meeting today between the Secretary-General and the head of the Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention, Pino Arlacchi, said it was a routine meeting, taking advantage of Arlacchi's presence this week in New York. He noted that the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services last week began a routine evaluation of the Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention, for the first time in three years, and would look at recent allegations about the Office during that evaluation.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today that at least 100 refugees arrive daily in Shimoni, Kenya from the east African islands of Pemba and Zanzibar. Since January 28, over 1,000 refugees have entered Kenya at Shimoni after demonstrations and violent clashes with police left scores of people dead and several others injured in the twin islands. UNHCR said some refugees are sleeping under trees and that the Kenyan government neends to identify an adequate site to accommodate the refugees.

Late Monday afternoon, Jan Pronk, the current President of the talks on the subject of climate change, announced that negotiations on the implementation of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol would resume for a two-week period this summer. The date and venue of the new round are to be decided shortly.

Djibouti paid more than $10,000 to pay its regular budget dues in full for this year. So far, 46 Member States have paid in full for 2001.

There will be a press briefing on Wednesday at 3 p.m. with Ambassador Antonio Monteiro of Portugal, Shazia Rafi of Parliamentarians for Global Action and UN Legal Counsel Hans Corell on the Conference on International Criminal Court Ratification in Lusophone Countries.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) today announced in Geneva that the use of the Patent Cooperation Treaty hit a record high last year, with the Organization receiving more than 90,000 international patent applications -- an increase of 22.9 percent from 1999. The United States accounted for 42 percent of all applications in 2000, followed by Germany (13.2 percent), Japan (10.3 percent), the United Kingdom (6.1 percent) and France (4 percent).

On Wednesday, the Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), Carol Bellamy, will begin a four-day visit to Vietnam, where she will attend the International Vitamin A Consultative Group meeting and Vietnam's National Conference on Children.

The World Food Progamme (WFP) warned today that millions of Sudanese face acute hunger due to continuing civil war and worsening drought. The agency appealed for $135 million to feed 2.9 million people in both Government and rebel-held areas until the end of the year.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055


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