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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-02-15

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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

Thursday, February 15, 2001

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES CONGO, SIERRA LEONE

This morning the Security Council met in closed consultations to hear a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guehenno on the latest report of the Secretary-General on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and recent developments.

Today, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for the Congo and head of the UN mission (MONUC) there, Kamel Morjane, is in Lusaka to attend a scheduled summit aimed at restoring peace to that country.

The second item on the Councils agenda this morning is the work of the panel created by Security Council Resolution 1306 that explored the link between diamonds and violations of the arms embargo in Sierra Leone.

COUNCIL GROUP ON PEACEKEEPING TO HOLD FIRST MEETING

This afternoon the recently established Working Group of the Security Council on Peace Keeping Operations will meet for the first time.

The Deputy Permanent Representative of Jamaica, Ambassador Curtis Ward, chairs this working group, which was established by the Council last month following their public meeting on strengthening cooperation with troop-contributing countries.

Todays meeting is an organizational session, but their first substantive meeting is expected to take place next week, with a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.

UN RELIEF COORDINATOR VISITS CAMPS FOR DISPLACED AFGHANS

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Kenzo Oshima (OCHA) traveled to Herat in western Afghanistan today where he visited camps for displaced Afghans.

The recent cold weather has claimed the lives of 150 people, mainly women and children. Oshima witnessed new arrivals, which are expected to rise to 300-500 people per day once the snow melts in the mountain passes. The conditions of those who remained behind are unknown due to poor access in winter.

Over a half a million Afghans have left their homes in 2000 and 2001 due to conflict and drought. Most are internally displaced inside Afghanistan.

Oshima had meetings with members of the aid community and with the Governor of Herat. During the latter meeting, the two discussed the issue of the ban on poppy cultivation, the need for emergency assistance to help the displaced now as well as medium-term help over the next 18 months to restore livelihoods.

Oshima is scheduled to hold a press conference Friday in Islamabad, Pakistan.

UN FOOD AGENCY APPEALS FOR AID TO EL SALVADOR, KENYA

The Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Catherine Bertini, today made an urgent plea for funds for victims of the earthquakes in El Salvador, saying that the food aid agency had only enough food stocks in the country to feed 200,000 people for two weeks.

According to Bertini, WFP needs to help an extra 100,000 people left homeless in the wake of Tuesdays quake.

WFP also announced a relief effort for more than 4 million Kenyans in need of food aid as severe drought conditions continue across large parts of that country.

UN REFUGEE OFFICIAL IN LIBERIA FOR TALKS WITH TAYLOR

After completing his visits to Guinea and Sierra Leone, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers (UNHCR) is in Monrovia, Liberia, today where he met with Foreign Ministry officials and had scheduled discussions with President Charles Taylor.

Lubbers is in the region to try to find a humanitarian solution for tens of thousands of refugees in need of help in volatile areas where Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia meet.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The travel dates for a six-member team of UN experts to go to Iraq to examine ways to implement the cash component for the oil industry, as called for in the last roll-over resolution of the Oil-for-Food Programme, have been changed. The trip had been scheduled for February 20 but they are now tentatively set to leave on March 12. The change is due to the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha which falls on March 5th.

In response to questions on the upcoming talks between the Secretary-General and a high-level Iraqi delegation, the Spokesman said the Iraqis had not yet submitted an agenda for the meeting and that the Secretary-General would not submit his thoughts on the talks until the Iraqis had submitted their agenda. However, the Spokesman added that the submission of a document from the Iraqis is in not a precondition for the talks to take place. He reminded correspondents that these talks are being held following a request the Secretary-General received from the Iraqi government while attending the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit last fall in Doha, Qatar.

The Governing Council of the UN Compensation Commission (UNCC) met in special session today in Geneva to elect a new President and one of two Vice-President. The Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Sverre Berg Johansen, was elected President and the Designated Permanent Representative of Mauritius, Ambassador Jaynarain Meetoo was selected as Vice-President. The Permanent Representative of Bangladesh serves as the other Vice-President.

Malaysia has become the 49th Member State to pay its regular budget dues in full for the year 2001, with a payment of more than $2.3 million.

This morning, Russia signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, becoming the 77th state to sign that Protocol.

In response to a question asking to characterize the relationship between Secretary-General Kofi Annan and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, the Spokesman said Wednesdays meeting was easy on a personal level even though it was intense on a substantive level. The Spokesman added the professional relationship between the two had gotten off to a good start.

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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