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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-02-14

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

Wednesday, February 14, 2001

TALIBAN THREATEN CLOSURE OF UN OFFICE IN KABUL

In response to a question on reports that the Taliban had closed the UN political office in Kabul, the Spokesman said the UN Special Mission to Afghanistan (UNSMA) had received a memorandum from the Taliban Ministry of Foreign Affairs informing that, in case the representation of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in New York is closed, UNSMAs office in Kabul would be expected to close as soon as possible.

The Spokesman added that Francesc Vendrell, the Secretary-General Personal Representative for Afghanistan, was in Washington D.C., Tuesday where he discussed this issue with senior U.S. State Department Representatives.

Vendrell, the Spokesman said, is in touch with the Taliban and is confident that a formula can be found that will enable the UN Secretariat to maintain its on-going dialogue with the Taliban in New York.

UN HUMANITARIAN OFFICIAL VISITS IDP CAMPS IN AFGHANISTAN

The UNs top humanitarian official, Under-Secretary-General for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Kenzo Oshima, is on the second of a three-day mission to Afghanistan to assess the rapidly deteriorating conditions for the people of that war-torn country.

Oshima, having spent Tuesday in Kabul, today proceeded to Faizabad in Badakhshan Province. In Faizabad, as in Kabul, he emphasized the need for access to vulnerable people.While appreciating international assistance, the authorities in Faizabad drew attention to the need for increased aid to the area.

Oshima also visited a camp for displaced persons in Faizabad, which houses some 10,000 people.

On Thursday, Oshima will travel to Herat, where there are 80,000 displaced Afghans in six camps where, recently, 150 persons died of exposure during a brief spell of below freezing temperatures.

ANNAN URGES INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO HELP EL SALVADOR

In a statement issued through his Spokesman, the Secretary-General said he was deeply saddened to learn of the second earthquake to strike El Salvador in a month's time.

In this statement, the Secretary-General assured the Government of El Salvador of the commitment of the United Nations to assist in the relief and rehabilitation effort and urged donors to respond generously to the request for international assistance put forward by the Government.

The World Food Programme (WFP), meanwhile, said that some towns have seen up to 70% of homes destroyed. Following the January earthquake, WFP had set up a $10 million program to assist some 200,000 people affected by the tremor.

For its part, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is assembling today in El Salvador a four member UN Disaster Assessment Coordination Team. OCHA has also allocated an emergency grant of $30,000 for the purchase of emergency relief supplies.

ANNAN: ISSUES OF DEVELOPMENT FINANCING NEED MORE ATTENTION

This morning at UN headquarters, the Secretary-General opened the first meeting of his High-Level Panel on Financing for Development, which is headed by former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo by noting the need to secure international attention to development financing issues.

He told the panel, "We have to help developing countries organize themselves in a way that encourages investors, both domestic and foreign. And we have to motivate the people and governments of industrialized countries, so that they are willing to devote more resources to debt relief and economic assistance, and to open their markets more fully to developing-country products."

The panel, a list of whose members is also upstairs, is also seeing the Secretary-General for a luncheon today, and will be meeting members of the bureau of the Preparatory Committee dealing with next year's High-Level Meeting on Financing for Development at a dinner this evening.

The work of the panel, which is to present its recommendations to the Secretary-General, is independent from that of the Preparatory Committee, but, as the Secretary-General noted today, it should complement the inter-governmental process.

EU OFFICIALS MEET WITH LARSEN ON PALESTINIAN ECONOMY

Terje Roed Larsen, the Secretary-Generals Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process is in Brussels today where he met with senior European Union officials.

This is part of a series of meetings the Special Coordinator will be having in a number of European capitals in an effort to raise awareness and funds to assist the Palestinian Authority as it faces a major fiscal crisis.

During this tour, he is accompanied by representatives of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Norwegian government, in their capacity as chair of the donor coordination body.

Larsen will also be traveling to Washington and New York.

HEAD OF UN SIERRA LEONE MISSION BRIEFS THE COUNCIL

This morning Kieran Prendergast, Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs, first briefed the Security Council in closed consultations on the recent high-level meeting between the United Nations and Regional organizations.

Afterwards, the council heard a briefing by Oluyemi Adeniji, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sierra Leone and head of the UN mission there (UNAMSIL), who then spoke with reporters.

In Freetown, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Ruud Lubbers, met for a second consecutive day Wednesday with Sierra Leonean officials and refugees, explaining his proposal for humanitarian access in the region.

Lubbers said UNHCR is receiving indications that the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) may be willing to consider UNHCRs call for a humanitarian corridor, possibly a safe return route from Forecariah in southwestern Guinea to the Kambia area of Sierra Leone.

Lubbers said he is enlisting the support of governments and other parties such as the RUF, who have influence in the region, to help UNHCR open a humanitarian passage or lifeline from the Parrot's Beak north into central Guinea.

$5.55 BILLION DISTRIBUTION PLAN FOR OIL-FOR-FOOD IS APPROVED

The Secretary-General yesterday approved the distribution plan for phase IX of the oil-for-food programme, as submitted by the Government of Iraq on 4 February 2001.

The plan foresees a budget of over $5.55 billion for the humanitarian programme, divided between 12 sectors countrywide.

In a letter transmitting the Secretary-Generals approval of the plan to the Government of Iraq, the Executive Director of the Office of the Iraq Programme (OIP), Benon Sevan, reiterated the Secretary-Generals observation in an earlier report that now that increased revenues are available for the implementation of the programme, the Government of Iraq is in a position to reduce current malnutrition levels and improve the health status of the Iraqi people.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

In response to a question on reports that an Indian pharmaceutical company had offered to sell AIDS medicine at half price, the Spokesman said the United Nations had no particular comment on that report but he added the Secretary-General has a well-known position that the pharmaceutical companies should take the lead in making finding a way to make affordable drugs available to poor countries. He added that Secretary-General has been talking to heads of pharmaceutical companies on this issue.

Speaking in Bridgetown, Barbados, at the launching of a new Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS by the Caribbean Community, Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) called the event "a watershed moment," and urged additional resources to fight AIDS in the region. According to UNAIDS, the Caribbean is second only to sub-Saharan Africa in terms of the impact of AIDS, with nine of the 12 countries with the highest HIV prevalence in the Americas located in the Caribbean basin.

On the racks is a letter from the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed El Baradei, addressed to the President of the Security Council in which he reports on the recent visit to Iraq of a four-person IAEA team which carried out a physical inventory inspection of declared nuclear material, in accordance with the Safeguards Agreement of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, which remains under IAEA seal in the country. The team was able to verify that the material, which consists of low enriched, natural and depleted uranium remains under IAEA seal.

The UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) reports on the latest wave of violence in the province, primarily targeting Kosovo Serbs, during which one Kosovar Serb man was killed and several others injured.

Two payments for the regular budget for this year were received today, one from Botswana for more than $93,000 and the other from Trinidad and Tobago for more than $155,000. Today's payments mean that 48 Member States are now paid in full for this year.

In a statement, the Secretary-General saluted long-time disarmament expert and former UN staff member William Epstein. He said he learned with great regret of the passing of Bill Epstein, a man who was well known to all seven Secretaries-General of the United Nations. He was indisputably one of the worlds leading advocates of global nuclear disarmament, having devoted both his entire professional career and his long retirement to this noble cause.

  • The guest at todays briefing was Sharon Capeling Alakija, Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) on the role of volunteerism in social development, which is on the agenda of the meeting Thursday of the Commission for Social Development.

    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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