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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-12-20

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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 20, 2001

AFGHANISTAN: SECURITY COUNCIL AUTHORIZES INTERNATIONAL SECURITY FORCE

[Early Thursday afternoon, the 15-member Security Council voted unanimously to authorize "the establishment for six months of an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to assist the Afghan Interim Authority in the maintenance of security in Kabul and its surrounding areas, so that the Afghan Interim Authority as well as the personnel of the United Nations can operate in a secure environment."

The Afghan Interim Authority is scheduled to assume power on Saturday, December 22.]

The Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, is in Islamabad today, where he met with officials from the UN Development Programme and the World Banks, as well as other members of the UN family. Friday, he is scheduled to travel to Kabul in time to attend the scheduled handover of power.

AFGHAN WOMEN-RUN BAKERIES RE-OPEN IN KABUL

The World Food Programme announced today during the regular UN press briefing in Islamabad, Pakistan, that bakeries in the Afghan capital of Kabul reopened today after being closed for the past two months. These bakeries will help more than 35,000 poor, destitute and widowed women reopened after being closed for the past two months.

The WFP bakeries, which became operational in Kabul in 1999 and are located in 10 of the 16 districts in Kabul, are once again using an all-female Afghan staff.

The Administrator of the UN Development Programme Mark Malloch Brown is in Brussels, Belgium, today representing the United Nations at the Conference on Recovery and Reconstruction in Afghanistan, organized by the European Union.

At the conference, Malloch Brown underscored the importance of providing enough funding for the "recovery phase"-- the initial year that aims at building a bridge between short term humanitarian efforts and longer term reconstruction. He noted that the recovery phase will include quick impact projects ranging from food and employment assistance to resumption of education and labor intensive civil works programmes.

POPPY CULTIVATION RESUMES IN ONE AFGHAN PROVINCE

According to the UN Drug Control Programme the poppy cultivation has resumed and is extensive in Helmand province. The poppy cultivation period has just started and the price of one kilogram of raw opium has gone down to $275 but is still nine times higher than it was in June.

The revised UN requirements for humanitarian work in Afghanistan amount to $ 661.9 million and, as of yesterday, some $358 million was received.

Only one agency - The UN Population Fund is fully covered, while WFP achieved 81% of requirements and the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees 59%.

The UNDP and UNDCP have received no significant funds so far. Other sectors such as health services, mine action and agriculture are around 30 per cent coverage.

SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES UP ISSUE OF MISSING KUWAITIS

Before voting on Afghanistan, Security Council met in closed consultations to hear a briefing by the High-Level Coordinator for the question of missing Kuwaitis and Third Country Nationals and Missing Kuwaiti Property by Ambassador Yuli Vorontsov.

The Ambassador presented to the Council the Secretary-Generals last report which was issued on Tuesday.

Wednesday afternoon, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1385 (2001) extending the sanctions against uncertified diamonds in Sierra Leone by a period of eleven months beginning January 5th.

The Council adopted two presidential statements, one extending the mandate of the Panel of Experts on the illegal exploitation of natural resources from the Democratic Republic of the Congo for six months and requesting an interim report in three months.

The second one relates to West Africa and, in the statement, the Council emphasizes, among other things, the need to maintain regional peace and stability and, in that connection, welcomes the progress made in the Mano River Union consisting of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In the statement, the Council also underlines the importance of taking steps to develop cooperation and coordination among the intergovernmental bodies and entities of the UN system which can influence the situation in West Africa.

ANNAN PLEDGES UN SUPPORT FOR ECOWAS

In a message addressed to the heads of states and governments gathered in Dakar for the 25th summit meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Secretary-General Kofi Annan pledged that the United Nations would continue to work actively with ECOWAS in numerous areas, notably in trying to restore security and confidence in the Mano River basin countries.

The Secretary-General also referred to his recent decision to open a Regional Office for West Africa as a further demonstration of his commitment to work closely with ECOWAS and other regional organizations in West Africa.

The message was delivered to the ECOWAS summit by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahima Fall.

PALESTINIAN POVERTY RATES DOUBLED SINCE START OF INTIFADA

In press conferences held today in Jerusalem and Ramallah, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Terje Roed-Larsen, released two sets of studies documenting the effects of Israeli closures on the Palestinian economy which show that Palestinian economic conditions are reaching critical levels. "Coping mechanisms are at a breaking point," Larsen said, "We have been witnessing peace-building in reverse."

On the broader situation in the region, he said for the first time there is a glimmer of hope and he called on the Palestinian Authority to continue to broaden and deepen its efforts to control violence which will take time and a 100% effort.

He said Israel should "show the utmost restraint and act to create a conducive environment for progress" also called on the international community to fully support the parties.

The latest economic update shows that total losses to the Palestinian economy are estimated at between $2.4 and $3.2 billion and poverty rates are estimated to reach 46% by year-end, more than double the rate prior to the crisis.

HEALTH AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT REPORT LAUNCHED IN LONDON

The Commission on Macroeconomics and Health of the World Health Organization launched the report "Macroeconomics and Health: Investing in Health for economic development" today in London.

The Secretary-General, in his message to the launch, said that because the consequences of illness can lead to suffering, despair and poverty, health features prominently in the Millennium Declaration. He went on to say that the report offers "wise guidance on how to invest in health."

On receiving the report, Gro Harlem Brundtland, the Director-General of the organization described it as a turning point that will influence how development assistance is prioritized and coordinated.

The report shows that just a few health conditions are responsible for a high proportion of avoidable deaths in poor countries and that improved health is essential for economic development. It goes on to say that well-targeted measures could save the lives of 8 million people each year and generate economic benefits of more than $360 billion by 2015.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The UN mission in East Timor reports that today the territory's Constituent Assembly passed 12 articles of East Timors draft Constitution, including articles guaranteeing the right to free assembly, freedom of movement and freedom of religion, as well as the right to strike, the right for all people over the age of 17 to vote and the right to work, regardless of sex. Recently, the Constituent Assembly also adopted an article declaring Portuguese and Tetum as East Timors official languages.

In its latest update on the Ebola outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that there have been 27 cases so far resulting in 15 deaths. Of the 27 cases, 16 were detected in Gabon and 11 in the Republic of the Congo, in villages near the border with Gabon. The WHO team is assisting with the governments of Gabon and the Congo to control the outbreak. We have more news in an update from the World Health Organization.

The UN Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East issued a press release on a $4.9 million contribution they received today from the government of Japan for the agencys food assistance programme.

The United Nations Children's Fund issued a press release on the World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, which ended in Yokohama, Japan, today.

  • The guest at the noon briefing was Catherine Bertini, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, who discussed the agency's operations 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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