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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-12-06

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

Thursday , December 6, 2001

SECURITY COUNCIL ENDORSES AFGHAN AGREEMENT

[The Security Council, in a resolution adopted unanimously by its 15 members, endorsed the agreement on an interim Afghan government reached Wednesday in Bonn, Germany. The resolution also calls on all Afghan groups to implement the agreement in full, in particularly through full cooperation with the Interim Authority due to take office on December 22.]

[Talking to reporters after the resolution's adoption, the Secretary-General said that his Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, and his team "have done a great job in Bonn. But the difficult task is ahead. We have many hurdles ahead. And we are going to try and do our best, and we expect the Afghan parties to cooperate with us."]

The Council had been briefed Wednesday afternoon by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast on the agreement.

The final version of the agreement reached in Bonn including the composition of the 30-member Interim Administration has now been made public.

UN INTERNATIONAL STAFF TO RETURN TO CENTRAL AFGHANISTAN

The UNs Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for Bamyan was headed to that central Afghan city today after a UN security assessment to had given the green light for UN international staff to return, according to today's UN briefing in Islamabad, Pakistan.

A 17-member UN survey team to assess support requirements for a possible enhanced UN presence in the region arrived in Islamabad this morning.

In the north, suffering of internally displaced persons, especially children, has worsened with some surveys suggesting that the nutritional condition of the internally displaced around Mazar-i-Sharif is quite serious.

In camps along the Afghanistan-Iran border, many of the displaced persons are digging holes in the ground in order to protect themselves from the sub-zero night temperatures and sandstorms.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says the rate of return from Iran to western Afghanistan is increasing. Yesterday, a record 2,000 Afghans returned, mainly to Herat and more than 24,000 refugees have returned since the Talibans hold on Herat was broken on November 12.

The World Food Programme (WFP) hopes to restart the barge operation from Termez in south Uzbekistan to Hairaton. Food has not been barged for a couple of weeks due to insecurity and the WFP is also attempting to send the trucks from Hairaton through Mazar-I-Sharif, into areas of the north in the coming days. The success of this operation will depend on security vastly improving.

The Salang Tunnel, a key link between Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif, has been re-opened to travelers. However, it remains heavily damaged and can be passed only by foot. The damage inside the tunnel is substantial and its reconstruction could take much longer than previously thought.

SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES UP UNMOVIC REPORT, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

In closed consultations, Council members were briefed on the latest quarterly report of the Secretary-General on the UN Monitoring and Verification Inspection Commission by Dr. Hans Blix, the Executive Chairman of the commission.

Kieran Prendergast, Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs, also briefed the council on the latest developments in the Central African Republic.

FIVE UN STAFF FALL ILL AFTER OPENING SUSPICIOUS LETTER IN KOSOVO

Early yesterday morning in Pristina, Kosovo, a suspicious letter was discovered at the UN Mission in Kosovos mailroom, apparently found in a letter, addressed to a UN official, that was in the diplomatic pouch from New York.

When a local staff member opened the letter, he came into contact with a white powder inside the envelope.

UN security officers quickly cordoned off the affected area and the building was evacuated.

Five of the people who had come in contact with the envelope showed symptoms of vomiting and skin rash; all those who are believed to have been exposed were treated at Pristina Hospital, where doctors believe the powder was toxic but not life-threatening.

All the affected persons have now left the hospital and are not believed to have suffered any further symptoms from the incident.

Security officers and members of the Regional Serious Crime Unit are investigating the matter, interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence.

The substance in the envelope will be analyzed and, at this stage, the substance is not believed to be anthrax. The investigation, however, is continuing.

When pressed for more detail on the incident, the Spokesman said the documents had passed through Skopje, in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, before reaching Pristina and that it appeared as though the letter had been tampered with between New York and Pristina. The Spokesman added that a full investigation was underway.

Asked if the letter could have been mailed from the outside, the Spokesman answered that the mail in the pouch was internal mail, from staff member to staff member, with a precise log of the pouch's content being recorded.

ANNAN TO UNVEIL PLAN TO REDUCE MOTHER-TO-CHILD AIDS TRANSMISSION

During a working dinner tonight, Secretary-General Kofi Annan will meet with a number of private philanthropic foundations, which are expected to announce a major initiative to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.

The programme, called MTCT (for mother-to-child transmission) Plus, aims at extending care and prevention to mothers, increasing the chance of survival for infected children as well as mothers.

The MTCT is one of the five points in the Secretary-Generals call to Action on HIV/AIDS.

The Secretary-General will tell the philanthropists that the MTCT Plus initiative is a wonderful example of the role foundations can play in the fight against AIDS. He is confident that their example will encourage and energize others to act.

The Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University will be coordinating the MTCT-Plus initiative on behalf of the foundations.

Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS, along with Gordon Conway, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, and Allan Rosenfeld, Dean of the Mailman School of Public Health, will brief reporters at UN headquarters Friday at 11:00 a.m.

UNDP ESTIMATES 10% OF BURKINA FASO IS HIV POSITIVE

About half a million people in Burkina Faso, close to 10% of the adult population, ar infected with HIV/AIDS, making it one of the worst hit countries in the world, according to a new report published with the support of the UN Development Programme.

The Burkina Faso Human Development Report says that the country is now behind only Cote dIvoire as the most AIDS-affected country in West Africa.

The pandemic will orphan 350,000 children in Burkina Faso by the end of this year, and it has reduced life expectancy by 11 years, compared to what could be expected based on the trend before the epidemic.

HIV/AIDS has affected all sectors of society, but for women between the ages of 15 and 24, says the report, the prevalence rate is five to eight times higher than that of men.

BOSNIAN SERB RELEASED EARLY BY HAGUE TRIBUNAL FOR GOOD BEHAVIOR

Today in The Hague, a Bosnian Serb who had been convicted of crimes at the Keraterm detention camp and sentenced to three years imprisonment was released from the detention unit of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, one day after Judge Claude Jorda issued an order for his early release.

The detainee, Dragan Kolundzija, had already served more than two years and five months of his sentence, and Jorda made the decision to grant early release after acknowledging the accuseds willingness to reintegrate into society, his determination not to commit other offenses and his exemplary behavior during detention.

ANNAN TO APPEAR ON 'SESAME STREET' CHILDREN'S SHOW

This afternoon the Secretary-General will tape a segment for the Sesame Street children's TV program.

During a game of limbo, the show's regular characters Elmo, Telly, Zoe, Rosita, Grover and Lulu begin to fight over whose turn it is to go next and who gets to sing the alphabet song. Soon after the argument erupts, the Secretary-General arrives, and in a fine display of conflict resolution skills, saves the day and they all agree to sing the alphabet song in unison.

In the end, the monsters learn an important lesson in compromise, topped off in a group hug with the Secretary General.

The segment will air on February 4th during Sesame Streets 33rd season.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees today announced a set of specific proposals to governments reviewing asylum systems from a security point of view after the September 11 attacks.

Today, Pakistan became the 110th country to sign the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Asked if the Secretary-General is planning to travel to Cyprus next January when Greek Cypriot leader Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, are to meet face-to-face, the Spokesman said he was not aware of any travel plans at this time.

  • The guest at the noon briefing was Carolyn McAskie, the UN's Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, who spoke about the humanitarian in 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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