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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-12-13

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

HIGHLIGHTS

OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY

MANOEL DE ALMEIDA E SILVA

DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday , December 13, 2001

ANNAN DEEPLY DISTURBED AT UPSURGE OF VIOLENCE IN MIDDLE EAST

Secretary-General Kofi Annan is deeply disturbed by the recent upsurge of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, according to a statement released through his Spokesman.

He sends his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and reiterates that the targeting of civilians is unacceptable.

The Secretary-General again calls on Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat to take decisive action against those responsible for such terrible acts.

Recent events have caused further serious damage to mutual confidence, and have deepened bitterness and despair. Yet, even at this most difficult of times, the Secretary-General would wish to remind Israelis and Palestinians that lasting peace and security for both can be achieved only through a negotiated settlement of their differences.

The Secretary-General urges both parties to take the steps necessary to move away from violent confrontation and back to the negotiating table.

In separate comments made to journalists in Stockholm today, following a meeting with about two dozen representatives of non-governmental organizations convened by the United Nations Association of Sweden, the Secretary-General was asked his views of the latest violence in the Middle East. He responded, "Im distressed about whats going on in the region.... What is happening is serious, and we need to continue and redouble our efforts to try and contain it before it gets completely out of hand."

ANNAN MEETS WITH SWEDISH MONARCH IN STOCKHOLM

Earlier today, on the Swedish feast of Santa Lucia, the Secretary-General was awakened by a dozen young people, dressed in white robes and carrying candles, who sang traditional songs of the day, a festival of light during the darkest time of the year.

At midday, he and his wife, Nane, had lunch with Their Majesties The King and Queen of Sweden.

Later in the afternoon, he met with his Special Representative for Kosovo, Hans Haekkerup.

Tomorrow morning, he is scheduled to fly back to New York.

SECRETARY-GENERAL OUTRAGED AT ATTACK ON INDIAN PARLIAMENT

The Secretary-General, in a statement issued through his Spokesman, expresses outrage at the terrorist attack today on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi in which at least 13 people were killed.

He condemns, in the strongest possible terms, this unprecedented act of senseless violence against an institution representing the largest parliamentary democracy in the world.

The Secretary-General conveys his heartfelt condolences to the Government and people of India and to the families of the victims.

AFGHANISTAN: BRAHIMI TO BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL FRIDAY

Lakhdar Brahimi, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Afghanistan, left Islamabad and is on his way back to New York, where he is expected to brief the Security Council Friday afternoon at 4 p.m.

The Secretary-General, upon his return from Europe, is also expected to attend the session.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Representative Francesc Vendrell is in Kabul today where he met, for over an hour, with Hamid Karzai who had arrived in the Afghan capital for the first time since the Bonn meeting chose him to head the new interim administration of Afghanistan to be installed on December 22.

Vendrell and Karzai, during what was the first face-to-face meeting between the designated head of the Interim Administration and the United Nations since Bonn, discussed the upcoming transfer of power, the deployment of a multi-national force and the situation in the country.

CONTINUED INSECURITY HAMPERING AFGHAN AID EFFORT

The UN humanitarian agencies said today that hundreds of families are reported from the Tora Bora area due to the bombing campaign.

While in the Kunduz area, the number of internally displaced people has grown to between 4,000 and 5,000 in three camps. Armed groups operating north of Kunduz and on the road between Kunduz and Kabul makes it difficult for relief operations to be carried out.

In the border town of Spin Boldak in the southeast there are reports that a volatile situation there is preventing access to those in need.

Following the departure of the Taliban from Kandahar there has been wide-scale looting and several violent incidents have taken place on the road from Kandahar to Herat.

Return movements to Afghanistan rose during the week, with nearly 4,000 Afghans spontaneously repatriating on Wednesday in a trend that may be linked to their desire to celebrate Eid with relatives rather than a sustained repatriation movement.

In southern Afghanistan, small numbers of refugees are still leaving Kandahar Provinces Spin Boldak region for the safety of camps managed by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Pakistan.

SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES UP RENEWAL OF CYPRUS FORCE

This morning the Security Council met in closed consultations to discuss a draft resolution on the six-month extension of the UN force in Cyprus.

As part of its morning programme, the Council will also be briefed on the peace process in Bougainville by the head of the UN Political office in Bougainville, Noel Sinclair.

Council members are also expected to discuss sanctions on Sierra Leone.

KOSOVO ASSEMBLY FAILS TO ELECT PRESIDENT

In Pristina today, the Kosovo Assembly failed to elect a President for Kosovo when the sole candidate being voted on, Ibrahim Rugova of the Democratic League of Kosovo, failed to get the required approval of two-thirds of the 120-member Assembly, the UN Mission there reported.

Rugova got 49 of the 70 votes that were cast, but 50 Assembly members did not vote. The Assembly did not schedule a date for another round of voting.

IRAQ COMPENSATION COMMISSION AWARDS SOME $132 MILLION FOR CLAIMS

The Governing Council of the UN Compensation Commission, under the Presidency of Ambassador Sverre Bergh Johansen of Norway, today approved awards of $132.7 million for compensation.

Representatives of Kuwait, Iraq, Sudan, Turkey, and Palestine addressed the fifteen-member Governing Council at its opening plenary meeting.

The Council decided to hold its next regular session from March 12-14, 2002.

REPORT FLAGS IMPACT OF ISRAELI CLOSURES OF PALESTINIAN TOWNS

The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East released a summary of a report it had commissioned from the Norwegian Research institute FAFO on the effect of the Israeli-imposed closures on two Palestinian towns, Jericho and Gaza City and two Palestinian villages, Beit Furik and Rantis.

The purpose of these studies was to improve understanding of how the closure impinges upon the economy and daily life of people, how they are affected by the closure and how they cope with the situation.

One of the key conclusions of this report is that while the direct economic effects of closure on the daily life of people are clearly identifiable, the longer lasting structural problems faced by the Palestinian private sector and health related effects are only now beginning to emerge.

Even larger problems may await the Palestinian population if the crisis and closure persists.

NEW APPOINTMENTS ANNOUNCED

Maj.-Gen. Jin Ha Hwang of the Republic of Korea has been named by the Secretary-General as the new Force Commander for the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus.

Maj.-Gen. Hwang will succeed Major-General Victory Rana of Nepal on December 15th.

Published today is an exchange of letters between the President of the Security Council and the Secretary-General on the extension of the mission of his Special Advisor on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, through 2002.

The Secretary-General, in a letter published today, informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint David Stephen, Chief of the UN Political Office in Somalia, as his Special Representative for Guinea-Bissau, effective next February 1. Stephen will replace Samuel Nana-Sinkam.

In another letter, the Secretary-General told the Council that he had decided to extend the appointment of his Special Adviser in Africa, Ibrahim Gambari, until February 28, 2003.

He told the Council that Gambaris efforts to promote peace in Angola have had a positive impact, but many issues including getting the parties to agree to negotiations under the Lusaka Protocol remain to be addressed.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has added two new sites to its list of World Heritage in Danger. The Danger list now has 31 sites from around the world that are threatened by natural or human causes. The Committee has also added six natural and two cultural sites to the World Heritage list.

At the request of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, delegates from 48 African countries will meet in Geneva on Friday to discuss a common strategy aimed at easing the negative effects of protracted refugee situations in a continent where tens of thousands of people remain in exile for decades.

The Food and Agriculture Organization announced that although the food situation in sub-Saharan Africa is improving generally, many countries are sill facing serious food shortages. The new issue of "Food supply situation and crop prospects in sub-Saharan Africa" notes that the situation in Somali is still of great concern with some 800,000 people experiencing food shortage and 300,000 in the southern regions threatened by starvation.

The World Food Programme (WFP) today made an urgent appeal for $54 million to feed more than half a million people in Zimbabwe. The WFP and the Government of Zimbabwe on Tuesday signed a Letter of Understanding outlining the operational details for the emergency intervention to provide food aid to 558,000 people affected by a combination of drought, floods and economic crises.

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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