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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-12-07

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

Friday , December 7, 2001

BRAHIMI TO MEET WITH FORMER AFGHAN KING EN ROUTE TO KABUL

The Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi is expected to travel to Rome on Sunday to meet with former Afghan King Zahir Shah.

From Rome, Brahimi is expected to travel to Islamabad, Pakistan, on Monday and then on to Kabul, Afghanistan.

In Kabul, Brahimi is expected to sit with the Afghan parties and discuss practical steps for implementation of the power-sharing agreement reached in Bonn on Wednesday and endorsed by the Security Council Thursday.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who had attended the formal meeting during which the resolution was adopted, afterwards welcomed the Council action but said, The difficult task is ahead.

Asked about the multinational force for Afghanistan, he noted that the Afghan parties in Bonn had agreed for the need for one. He said, The Council will be coming back to that later. I hope not much later, because it is an essential part of the agreement.

The UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) announced today that it will convene an international roundtable on womens leadership role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan from December 10-11 in Brussels.

Asked who would lead the multinational force for Afghanistan, the Spokesman said that Member States would decide upon their participation in such a force, and it was hoped that the Security Council would authorize the force. The Spokesman was not aware of any specific advice from the United Nations to any countries who might be involved in that force.

Asked whether Brahimi would work in Afghanistan, the Spokesman recalled that the plan was for him to work from New York, while his two deputies, Francesc Vendrell on the political side and Michael Sackett on the humanitarian side, would be based in the region, and possibly in Kabul once conditions permit.

In response to a question on comments by some Afghan leaders rejecting the Bonn agreement, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General has not been advised by Brahimi of any serious concern. He noted press accounts from Interior Minister Yunus Qanooni suggesting the differences within the Northern Alliance were minor, and hoped they could be resolved.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME HOPES TO MOVE SUPPLIES INTO KANDAHAR

With the changing events in Kandahar over the past 24 hours, the World Food Programme (WFP) says it hopes it will soon be able to start moving supplies into the city as soon as security conditions on the ground allow. WFP said at today's briefing in Islamabad, Pakistan, that about 238,000 people living in that city and surrounding areas have been cut off since September.

Assistant UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Kamal Morjane traveled to Pakistan and briefed officials on UNHCRs voluntary refugee repatriation plan.

UN relief agencies also noted the opening of a second river crossing between Tajikistan and Afghanistan that would enable greater amounts of humanitarian aid to reach the northern part of the country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been transporting and distributing emergency medical kits into remote regions by foot and donkey.

In Herat, agencies report the overcrowding at the largest camp in that western city housing people who fled their homes, from as far away as Mazar-i-Sharif.

Asked about the situation in Kandahar, the Spokesman noted news reports suggesting that the Taliban forces including some armed fighters had left the city, and said the situation in the city was unstable. He worried that armed fighters could destabilize other areas.

UN RIGHTS CHIEF SAYS INQUIRY INTO PRISON UPRISING NEEDED

Responding to questions at a press conference in Geneva, High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson said there were many acute human rights concerns in Afghanistan, starting with the very serious humanitarian situation. Unhindered access for humanitarian supplies is not just a need, but a human right, she said.

She also added that it was important that the circumstances surrounding the prison uprising in Mazar-i-Sharif be examined carefully so as to know what exactly happened.

Asked about that uprising, the Spokesman said that the United Nations was not present and had no witnesses.

Asked about any UN position on an amnesty for Taliban or other fighters, the Spokesman said that the United Nations had not expressed an official position. There have been other circumstances in the past when UN officials viewed amnesties as helpful, he added.

SECURITY COUNCIL TO DISCUSS BURUNDI THIS AFTERNOON

The Security Council will hold consultations on Burundi at 3:00 p.m. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast will brief the Council on the latest developments in that country since the Secretariats last briefing to the Council last month.

This morning the Council had a meeting with the Troop Contributing Countries to the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.

UNRWA CHIEF APPEALS FOR $330 MILLION FOR NEXT YEAR

Earlier this morning, Peter Hansen, the Commissioner-General of the UN Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) appealed for more than $330 million to fund his agencys operation in 2002.

Speaking at UNRWAs annual pledging conference, taking place in the Trusteeship Council, he said that the international community has a humanitarian responsibility to assist the Palestine refugees. Following the tragedy of September 11, as well the recent developments in Afghanistan, he said, There is ever greater need for the international community to provide the refugees with the sense of security that contributes to stability in the community.

Hansen told delegates that while the 2002 budget shows an increase of $19 million over 2001, it represents in fact a decline in real terms when inflation and the rapidly growing refugee population are taken into account. UNRWA expects the total refugee population to cross the four million mark in the course of the next year.

UN MISSION IN DR-CONGO SCREENS RWANDAN REBEL TROOPS

In a press release issued today the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) announced that Thursday it had screened and identified 56 soldiers from the Rwandan rebel group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), who were hospitalized in Lumumbashi.

The UN team established that the majority of the ex-combatants were young, between the ages of 22 and 30, and had gunshot wounds.

This operation, as well as others that will be conducted in Kinshasa and one that was recently completed in Kamina, is part of the preliminary phase of the disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, reinstallation and reintegration of armed groups, which is called for in the Lusaka Ceasefire accords and UN Security Council resolutions.

UN MISSION SAYS SITUATION IN ETHIOPIA-ERITREA ZONE STABLE

The UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) reports that the situation in the Temporary Security Zone between those two countries is calm and stable.

It notes that Indian peacekeepers investigated charges made by the Eritrean authorities of an attack last Friday by as many as 250 Ethiopian troops, and says the UN forces did not observe any such Ethiopian attack. They did see eight or nine unidentified soldiers near the village of Hambokale, who later withdrew, and heard about six shots that may have been warning shots.

SIERRA LEONE: RUF LEADER PLEDGES TO BEGIN DISARMAMENT

[The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Sierra Leone, Oluyemi Adeniji, met today in Magburaka with the interim leader of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), Gen. Issa Sesay, the UN mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) said in a press release issued after the noon briefing.

The issues raised by the RUF, according to Adeniji, concerned the release of Foday Sankoh, whom they said had been detained for too long, the lack of assistance for the transformation of the RUF into a political party contrary to the Lome Peace Agreement, and security of the RUF leadership after disarmament.

After a long discussion, during which Adenji informed the RUF that dealing with their various political concerns would be easier on the completion of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, an agreement was reached to formally launch the disarmament process in Kailahun on Monday, December 10..]

ANNAN: REMEMBER HUMAN RIGHTS DURING FIGHT ON TERROR

In his message for Human Rights Day 2001, which will be observed on Monday, the Secretary-General says this years observance had a special meaning since it falls on the very day the United Nations is being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Peace and human rights belong together, the Secretary-General says in the message.

As we unite to take action against terrorism, he goes on to say, let us remember that the human rights were defending are universal. Let us work harder than ever to defeat racism and discrimination.

In her press conference in Geneva today, Mary Robinson, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, added, We are very focused on the situation in Afghanistan, but I am also concerned about measures being taken, very understandably and very rightly, to combat terrorism, but in doing so possibly eroding human rights and long standing liberties, and even aspects of the rule of law.

COMPENSATION COMMISSION FOR IRAQ TO MEET NEXT WEEK

Next Tuesday in Geneva, the Governing Council of the UN Compensation Commission with open its 42nd session.

During the session, the Council will consider a number of reports and recommendations of the panels of Commissioners concerning claims filed by individuals and corporations for compensation for direct losses and damages suffered as a result of Iraqs invasion and occupation of Kuwait. The Council will also discuss issues relating to the processing and payment of claims.

The session will end on December 13.

POSSIBLE EBOLA OUTBREAK IN CENTRAL AFRICA

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been notified of possible outbreaks of the Ebola virus in Gabon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

In Gabon, where seven deaths have been reported, the WHO sub-Regional Epidemic Response Team, along with teams from the Gabon Ministry of Health and the Centre International de Recherches Médicales de Franceville, are in the north-eastern province of Ogooué Ivindo. Samples have been sent to a lab in Gabon for testing, and those results are expected early next week.

In the DRC, teams from World Health Organization, the Ministry of Health and Medicins Sans Frontiers are also investigating reports of an outbreak of Ebola.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The Secretary-Generals year-end press conference will be on Wednesday, December 19.

Asked what the Secretary-General would do with the money from his share of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Spokesman said he hadnt decided yet, but his staff was giving careful thought to it.

The Italian Government today signed an agreement with the United Nations to improve the UN logistics base at Brindisi, by, among other things, building three new hangars at Brindisi airport by 2003. The cost of expanding the UN base approximately 7.5 million dollars will be covered by the Italian Government.

Today, Sudan became the 131st Member State to pay its 2001 regular budget contribution in full with a payment of more than $62,000. Last year at this time, 139 countries had paid their regular-budget dues in full, with a total of over $746 million. This years total, for 131 countries, is more than $748 million.

Following the news of the brutal death of Sir Peter Blake, the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Klaus Toepfer, said he was "a remarkable person, sportsman and environmentalist". Blake, who had been named a UNEP Special Envoy last year, had brought determination, leadership, creativity and care to his activities with respect to the environment, and we are all diminished by his loss", Toepfer added.

The Spokesman congratulated the winners of the elections for the UN Correspondents Associations Executive Committee, including Azim Mian, who was elected UNCA President for 2002. Ted Morello, Behzat Baris and Norberto Svarzman were elected respectively as the first, second and third Vice Presidents; Walter Pfaeffle will be the Secretary; and Akram Zadeh will be the new Treasurer.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

Saturday, December 8

The Secretary-General will arrive in Oslo, Norway.

Sunday, December 9

In Oslo, the Secretary-General and General Assembly President Han Seung-Soo will give a press conference and will also participate in a dinner with members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

Monday, December 10

In Oslo, the Secretary-General and the United Nations will jointly receive the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize, and the Secretary-General will speak at the ceremony. Among other events, the Secretary-General and General Assembly President Han Seung-Soo will meet with King Harald V.

Today is International Human Rights Day. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson will mark Human Rights Day in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) will convene an international roundtable on womens leadership role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan today and tomorrow in Brussels, Belgium.

Tuesday, December 11

The Secretary-General will meet a group of non-governmental organization representatives at the Red Cross headquarters in Oslo. 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 and meet with the leadership of the Norwegian Parliament.

Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Jayantha Dhanapala will deliver a message on the Secretary-Generals behalf to the second review conference of states parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons, which will take place in Geneva.

The Governing Council of the United Nations Compensation Commission will hold its 42nd session through Thursday.

Wednesday, December 12

The Secretary-General will travel to Stockholm, Sweden, where he will meet with Swedish Parliamentarians and with Prime Minister Goran Persson.

The Security Council will hold consultations on Cyprus and on the report of the panel on the exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Thursday, December 13

In Stockholm, the Secretary-General and Nane Annan will have an audience with the King and Queen of Sweden.

The Security Council expects to hold consultations on Cyprus and Bougainville.

Friday, December 14

The Security Council will hold a formal meeting on Cyprus and an open debate on the report on the exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Towards the end of the week, the Secretary-Generals report on the UN Peace-building Support Office in Guinea-Bissau is expected to go to the Security Council.

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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