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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-12-05

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

OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday , December 5, 2001

ANNAN WELCOMES SIGNING OF AFGHAN POWER-SHARING AGREEMENT

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement today, warmly welcomed the signing in Bonn, Germany today of the "Provisional Arrangements in Afghanistan," which provide for the establishment of an Interim Authority. He congratulated all concerned - and particularly the Afghan delegations - on showing the necessary spirit of compromise to reach this accord, which is an important step towards the achievement of lasting peace and a return to legitimate authority in Afghanistan.

The Secretary-General noted that the "Provisional Arrangements" call for the United Nations system to play a multi-faceted role in their implementation. He wished to assure the Afghan people, who have endured terrible suffering during the last two decades, that the United Nations stands ready to help them reach peace, stability and prosperity - and he trusted that Member States will provide the necessary resources and support.

He also thanked Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and the German Government for the support they provided to the Afghan delegations and to Special Representative for Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi's team during the last nine days.

AFGHAN GROUPS AGREE ON INTERIM ADMINISTRATION HEADED BY HAMID KARZAI

After meeting throughout the night, the delegates from the four Afghan groups at the UN-sponsored talks at the historic Petersberg hotel outside Bonn this morning signed an agreement on Provisional Arrangements in Afghanistan Pending Re-establishment of Permanent Government Institutions.

The delegates agreed to set up a cabinet-style, 30-member Interim Authority to be headed by Pashtun leader Sayed Hamid Karzai upon the transfer of power on December 22.

At a press conference following the signing, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, who witnessed the signing said he was delighted at the outcome, but added, The real work starts now. And the real difficulties are going to start when this Interim Administration that has been agreed upon here moves to Kabul.

In response to questions, Brahimi said he would stop in Rome to see the former King on his way to Kabul, where he wants to see Berhanuddin Rabbani. He did not elaborate on dates.

The final list of the Interim Authority is still not available, but it has been confirmed that it includes two women, one of whom is one of the five vice chairs, and the three posts of defense, interior and foreign ministers are being retained by the incumbents.

Regarding ethnic balance, Brahimi said they have tried to work out 11 seats for the Pashtuns, eight for the Tajiks, five for the Hazaras, three for the Uzbeks and one or two for the other, smaller groups. The group from Cyprus has nobody included in this administration.

Asked about Brahimis future travels, the Spokesman said that, following a trip to Berlin today, he was expected to go to Paris, where he might rest briefly after the marathon negotiations. So far, he said, Brahimis plans after that were not finalized, although he could either visit Rome and Kabul, as mentioned above, or return to New York.

UN OPENS TWO-DAY MEETING ON AFGHAN NEEDS IN BERLIN

Following the breakthrough in Petersberg, Lakhdar Brahimi then traveled to Berlin to open the two-day Afghan Support Group meeting focusing on the immediate and longer-term needs of the people of Afghanistan.

The UN team, represented by Emergency Relief Coordinator Kenzo Oshima, High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Ruud Lubbers and UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Mark Malloch Brown.

Four documents were presented to the 16-member group: a paper on humanitarian response and needs as outlined in the updated Donor Alert for $662 million; a new 30-day Emergency Operational Assistance Plan, UNHCRs six-month plan of action and a preliminary strategy paper for the transition from relief to long-term recovery.

SECURITY COUNCIL TO DISCUSS AFGHANISTAN THIS AFTERNOON

Following the agreement on Afghanistan reached in Bonn this morning, the Security Council will hold closed consultations this afternoon at 3:00. The Secretary-General will be present and Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast will brief the Councils.

Asked about security arrangements in Afghanistan, the Spokesman noted that the Security Council has yet to take up the question of what security mechanism would be needed, although it would be expected to do so later today. He said that, for the sake of the Afghan people, the United Nations would like to see a decision on security quickly.

In that regard, he said security in Kabul would be essential because Afghan groups would be coming to the capital to participate in the Transitional Authority. He noted todays agreement recommended that the Security Council approve the early deployment of a UN-mandated force that would provide security for Kabul and its surrounding areas, which could be progressively expanded to deal with other urban areas. Ultimately, Eckhard underscored, the final decision would be the Councils.

AFGHAN AID EFFORTS HAMPERED BY INSECURITY, INCREASING SNOW

On the humanitarian front, insufficient accessibility which is worsening with the onset of winter and overall insecurity in most of Afghanistan is hampering the ability of the UN to deliver aid inside the country. The entire eastern and southern regions, as well as parts of the north, have been difficult or impossible to reach.

The situation in Mazar-i-Sharif remains volatile, and the UN Humanitarian Coordinators Office remains concerned about increasing reports of looting and kidnapping that seem to target Tajik and Pashtun minorities, as well as reports of disappearances and an increase in armed robberies.

UN aid agencies are continuing their work, however, with the World Food Programme (WFP) reporting that today, a record amount of aid on WFP food trucks was sent from Peshawar, Pakistan, to Afghanistans central highlands, with 73 trucks carrying more than 2,300 tons of wheat to the snow-affected area.

As the snows increase, WFP is about halfway to meeting its target of bringing in 16,000 tons of food before the end of this year. Also today, a three-person WFP Avalanche Control Unit received snow equipment, survival gear, skis and snowmobiles, which they hope to bring to Faizabad this weekend.

Also, WFP has set up communications equipment at the top of a mountain in the center of Kabul, called Asamayi, which had previously served as a site for Afghan military and TV installations. The mountain dubbed TV Mountain no longer has military installations, and WFP will use it to improve its communications efforts in the country.

Asked whether the UN facilities at Brindisi, Italy, would be used as a base for humanitarian operations in Afghanistan, the Spokesman noted that Brindisi was a major UN logistics facility which WFP was using to pre-position food for Afghans in Afghanistans neighboring countries. He said that a UN survey team, which would be looking into an expanded UN presence in Afghanistan, stopped in Brindisi, and said they may have explored what assets in Brindisi could be useful to that presence.

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES UN MISSION IN BOSNIA

The Security Council this morning held an open meeting on Bosnia and Herzegovina. Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hédi Annabi introduced the report of the Secretary-General on the UN Mission in that country, which notes the need for a follow-on mission once the UN Mission completes its core mandate by December 2002.

All Council members took the floor, and the UN representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina also spoke.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO OSLO FOR NOBEL PRIZE PRIVATE

The Secretary-General will leave for Oslo, Norway, late Friday afternoon, where he will settle in and have a few bilateral meetings on Saturday.

On Sunday, he and the President of the General Assembly, Han Seung-Soo, who will accept the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the United Nations, will give a joint press conference before participating in a rehearsal for the Nobel Ceremony. That evening, both men will have dinner with members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

On Monday, the day of the award, the Secretary-General and Nane Annan, along with the Assembly President and his wife, will meet with over 2,000 children.

The Secretary-General and the President will then have an audience with His Majesty King Harald V.

In the afternoon, the Secretary-General and the President will be awarded the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize, after which they will attend a reception in their honour hosted by the King.

In the evening, they will witness the traditional torchlight procession and then attend the Nobel banquet.

On Tuesday, the Secretary-General will meet a group of non-governmental organization representatives at the Red Cross headquarters. He will also have meeting with the Norwegian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

In the afternoon he will officially open a donor conference on East Timor, meet with the leadership of the Norwegian Parliament and visit a school project.

In the evening he will attend a concert, which is the concluding event of the Nobel program.

On Wednesday, he will travel to Stockholm, Sweden, where he will meet with Swedish Parliamentarians and the Prime Minister. On Thursday, he and Nane Annan will have an audience with the King and Queen of Sweden. He will also meet with Swedish non-governmental organizations later in the day.

On Friday, December 14, he will return to New York.

UN RELIEF COORDINATOR CONDEMNS ATTACKS IN LIBERIA

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Kenzo Oshima voiced his concern today at attacks by alleged dissidents in Liberia that have put thousands of civilians at risk in that countrys Gbarpolu County.

The displacement of 1,413 people by these attacks has nearly doubled the population of the Bopulu camp for internally displaced persons, straining its already inadequate resources and creating serious security and health risks for all those seeking refuge there.

Oshima condemned the attacks and expressed alarm at the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the county.

UNRWA RELOCATES SOME STAFF FOLLOWING GAZA INSECURITY

In light of the current security situation in Gaza, the UN Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has taken a number of temporary measures to allow it to continue with its work.

UNRWA has temporarily relocated 23 international staff from Gaza City to its Amman, Jordan, office, where they will continue to do their work.

All of the agencys senior staff, comprising 25 internationals, will be staying in Gaza.

UNRWA schools in Gaza were closed today and will reopen Thursday.

UN: GENEVA CONVENTION APPLIES TO PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson this morning told delegates of the Conference of Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention that the Security Council and the General Assembly had repeatedly reaffirmed the de jure applicability to the occupied Palestinian territories of this convention.

It is important to emphasize, she said, that neither the Israeli policy of targeted assassination of Palestinian civilians, nor Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians, can be reconciled with provisions of international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Protecting the victims should be the overriding concern of the UN system, the High Commissioner added. However, she added, the failure to resolve the fundamental problem of occupation combined with the failure by successive Israeli governments to comply with the provisions of the Geneva Convention has left the population of the occupied Palestinian territories in a vulnerable situation.

[Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) added that, since October 2000, 832 Palestinians have lost their lives and more than 16,500 have been injured, with more than half of those killed being refugees registered with UNRWA.]

ANNAN MARKS END OF INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF VOLUNTEERS

The Secretary-General today addressed an event at the General Assembly Hall that marks the close of the International Year of Volunteers, in which he emphasized how, in these troubled times, volunteers are a shining example of the brave and caring face of our humanity.

Although the Year of Volunteers is now over, he called for efforts to sustain the momentum built over the past 12 months.

He accepted a gift from Canada, of a sculpture designed by Anthony Testa of the Royal Canadian Mint, that is dedicated to the spirit of volunteerism.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Today, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants received two more signatures. Albania and Yemen brought the number of signatories to109.

As part of the observance of Human Rights Day on December 10, the Department of Public Information will host a forum Thursday on the impact of the media on the anti-discrimination agenda of the United Nations. The forum begins at 10:30 a.m. in Conference Room 4 and will be webcast live on the UN website.

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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