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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-02-28

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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 FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, February 28, 2001

ANNAN URGES RESTRAINT TO CALM KOSOVO-FYR OF MACEDONIA BORDER

In a statement issued through his Spokesman, Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan expressed his grave concern at the recent occurrence of violence in the border area of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

The statement went on to express his particular concern that the recent deterioration has resulted in the displacement of civilians in the area.

He is encouraged, the statement explained, by the fact that a NATO political and military mission is visiting Skopje today to assess the situation on the ground, and that KFOR has stepped up patrols and enhanced monitoring the border between Kosovo and the FYROM.

It concluded by his call on all the parties to exercise restraint and remains convinced that the situation must be resolved by political means.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports the number of ethnic Albanians who have fled to Kosovo from a mountain village in neighboring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has risen to over 500, an increase of 200 since Monday. UNHCR added that the latest group of arrivals fled following an intensive firefight that took place on Tuesday around the village of Tanusevci. Those who have been interviewed state their reason for flight was the increased tension and build up of forces in the area and the firefight.

ANNAN SEES IRAQ TALKS AS POSITIVE, TO BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL

The Secretary-General will brief the Security Council this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. on his two days of talks with the Iraqi delegation headed by Foreign Minister Mohammed Said al-Sahaf. He considers these talks to have been a positive beginning of a dialogue that he hopes might eventually lead to an end to the stalemate between Iraq and the Security Council.

He suggested to the Iraqi delegation two sets of dates for the next round--one in mid-April and the other in early May.

Earlier in the morning, the Security Council met in closed consultations to discuss a draft resolution on sanctions against Liberia.

In response to a request for more information on the next session of talks, the Spokesman said he could not release more details on the dates or eventual composition of the UN delegation.

In response to a question on the evaluation of the documents on disarmament handed over by the Iraqi delegation during the talks, the Spokesman said that it was up to the Security Council to evaluate them.

BORNEO VIOLENCE: SQUALID CONDITIONS REPORTED IN CAMPS

The Office of the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that two missions were fielded yesterday to look into the needs of the population affected by the recent violence on the island of Borneo.

One mission went to two towns in the province of Central Kalimantan on Borneo, where the violence is occurring. The second mission went to Madura and Surabaya on the island of Java, site of the main reception point of those fleeing the violence.

Both teams met with local authorities and international Non-Governmental Organizations.

The local authorities in Central Kalimantan indicated that the most urgent humanitarian needs were for food and medicine. The team in Surabaya reported that over 16,000 evacuees from Kalimantan had already arrived, and that 8,000 more were expected during the course of the day. All register with district authorities and move in with families. It is expected that the influx will pose a burden on the local communities in Madura. Medical treatment and some food have been made available.

A World Food Programme (WFP) staff member Lenard Milich in the town of Sampit, where it is raining heavily today, described the conditions at one camp for displaced as squalid, and extraordinarily crowded. People are squatting on wet cardboard and defecating in two ditches that run through the camp, Milich said. I've gone to a lot of camps in Indonesia but the situation today was far worse than any I've come across

The World Health Organization (WHO) said concerns have already been raised on the health situation of the displaced people, as well as the departure of health personnel, leaving uncertainty on remaining health structures in place.

FORMER SWISS PRESIDENT NAMED SPORTS ADVISOR BY ANNAN

The Secretary-General this morning appointed Adolf Ogi, the former President of Switzerland, as his Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace.

The Special Adviser will help the Secretary-General reach out to the world of sport in order to promote understanding and support for the work and ideals of the United Nations.

Ogi, whose father was a forester, mountain guide and ski instructor, has held a number of prominent sports-related positions, including as Director of the Swiss Ski Federation.

UN PREDICTS GLOBAL POPULATION COULD HIT 10 BILLION BY 2050

The 2000 revision of the "World Population Prospects" report put out by the UN Population Division was released today. It predicted the world population could grow to between 7.8 billion and 10.9 billion people by the year 2050.

Under the medium-fertility variant, world population -- which stood at a little over six billion by mid-2000 -- could be expected to rise to 9.3 billion by 2050. By 2025, the estimates are that population rates will decline in the world's more developed region while remaining positive throughout the developing world.

The report also noted the effects of HIV/AIDS, with sub-Saharan Africa, which has been particularly hard hit, showing a lower estimated life expectancy between 1995 and 2000 (48.6 years) years than the region had 10 years ago (when life expectancy was a whole year higher, at 49.6 years).

UN OBSERVERS IN CONGO WITNESS START OF RWANDAN PULL BACK

The UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) reported that the five-day Rwandan troop pullout operation from Pweto has begun, as scheduled. The UN missions chief of staff as well as a military observer team had been dispatched to the southeastern town to verify the withdrawal.

The UN military observers are also positioned to verify the latest announced withdrawal by Uganda.

EAST TIMOR TAKES STEP TOWARD SETTING UP TRUTH-TELLING MECHANISM

The East Timor Transitional Cabinet endorsed today the establishment of a Reception, Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Once established, after approval by the National Council, the Commission will be a truth-telling mechanism that will provide a historical record of past human rights violations between April 25, 1974 and October 25, 1999.

The draft regulation also establishes a Community Reconciliation Process for dealing with less serious offences that will not be prosecuted by the justice system.

CLIMATE CHANGE TALKS SET TO RESUME MID-JULY IN BONN

Jan Pronk, the Chairman of the Climate Change talks that had been suspended last November in the Hague, announced this morning that these discussions are now set to resume in Bonn from July 16 to 27.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the secretariat of the UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) called on governments to recognize the economic and competitive benefits of making an early transition to climate-friendly economies. This call comes a few days before the March 5th release of the third and final report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The World Health Organization (WHO) today announced that the Ebola outbreak in Uganda, which was first reported last October 2000, is officially over. The last person to be infected by the virus recovered 42 days ago, twice the maximum incubation period for Ebola to develop.

Mary Ann Wyrsch, the acting Commissioner of the US Immigration and Naturalization Service, has been appointed as UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees. The High Commissioner, Ruud Lubbers, praised her "very broad and rich management experience." She will start her duties on April 1.

The Office of the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs released its weekly update for Afghanistan, which notes the severe conditions faced by more than 13,000 Afghans who have taken refuge on a small island on the Afghan-Tajik border. Hundreds of the refugees suffer from malaria, tuberculosis and typhoid, and at least 40 of them have died from hunger, disease or freezing temperatures since last October.

The Annual UN International School/UN student conference will take place in the General Assembly Hall 1-2 March. This years theme is Twenty-Five Years of UNIS/UN: Problems and Progress over the past quarter century.

  • Todays guest at the noon briefing was Kenzo Oshima, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, who briefed reporters on his recent visit to Afghanistan.

    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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