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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-12-21

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

MANOEL DE ALMEIDA E SILVA

DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday , December 21, 2001

This is the last noon briefing of the year; Instead of briefings next week, highlights of daily developments in the UN system will be provided on this page; Briefings resume on Wednesday, January 2, 2002

UN ENVOY FOR AFGHANISTAN ARRIVES IN KABUL FOR HANDOVER OF POWER

Lakhdar Brahimi, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Afghanistan, is in Kabul today to take part in the ceremony Saturday that will mark the official handover of power from Burhannudin Rabbani to the Interim Administration headed by Hamid Karzai.

Asked whether Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan Francesc Vendrell was resigning, the Spokesman said that Vendrell had asked not to continue in his post once his contract expires at the end of January. Vendrell, he said, felt that following the Bonn Agreement, a new phase had entered in the Afghan peace process and it was appropriate for him to move on.

WFP ASSISTS NEW YORKERS AID DISTRIBUTION TO KABUL ORPHANS

The World Food Programme (WFP) told the press briefing in Islamabad, Pakistan, that it had dispatched a convoy to meet the group of New York City firefighters and police officers, who, upon arrival in Kabul, went to an orphanage in southern Kabul, where they distributed food and blankets to more than 700 children.

Refugees keep returning to Afghanistan from Iran and Pakistan as the situation in Afghanistan gradually improves and more staff from aid organizations are deployed on the ground. After a lull during the end of the Ramadan weekend, returns have picked up sharply, with thousands of people going back from Pakistan and Iran daily. On Thursday, an estimated 2,500 people returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan alone, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The head of the UN Mine Action Programme briefed reporters in Islamabad today on de-mining operations in Afghanistan and on the status of ammunition depots within the military compounds in and around Kabul that have been bombed.

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan, Kamal Hossain, emphasized the importance of complying with international humanitarian law concerning the treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan. He referred to reports of the death and summary execution of prisoners after their capture as a source of serious concern.

Hossain is scheduled to visit Afghanistan, beginning on January 4, 2002, and would report to the Commission on Human Rights at its next session.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED BY LIBERIA CLASHES

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement issued through his Spokesman today, expressed concern at the recent upsurge in fighting between Liberian Government forces and armed elements in the northwestern part of the country.

He was troubled that innocent Liberian civilians, mostly women and children, have been forced to flee their homes in search of safety and relief, while others are trapped in areas where they cannot be easily assisted or protected. He called on the concerned parties to allow unhindered access to those in need by humanitarian agencies.

The Secretary-General remains concerned about the negative impact the fighting is having on prospects for peace and stability in the Mano River Union, which comprises Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, and called on those involved in the fighting to eschew violence.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees also reports heavy shelling coming from Liberia also continues to be heard in Kailahun area of Sierra Leone. Intensified fighting in Liberias Lofa county continues to push refugees into Sierra Leone.

UN MISSION MONITORS CLASHES IN EASTERN SIERRA LEONE

The UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) today provided a detailed update by Acting Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Martin Agwai on the latest disturbances between rival factions in the diamond-rich eastern town of Koidu.

Clashes between former combatants of the Revolutionary United Front and the pro-government Civil Defense Force, which erupted on Wednesday and continued into Thursday, followed a disagreement over a decision to halt mining in Koidu.

The confirmed casualties are five dead and 40 injured, according to Agwai.

The situation this morning was said to be calm.

Agwai, who had just returned from Koidu, said he would be going back to the town within the next 24 hours or so.

ANNAN MOURNS FORMER SENEGALESE PRESIDENTS PASSING

The Secretary-General, in a statement issued through his Spokesman, voiced his deeply sadness at the death of Leopold Sedar-Senghor, the first President of Senegal and the father of Senegalese democracy. President Sedar-Senghor led Senegal with wisdom and distinction for two decades, from its birth as an independent nation -- a crucial period not only for his country, but for Africa as a whole.

He stood out as a leader committed to peace, justice, development and education, and laid the foundation for what was to become Senegals tradition of democratic and peaceful transfer of power.

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES PEACE EFFORTS IN ANGOLA

The Security Council this morning held a public meeting on the situation in Angola.

The Secretary-Generals Special Advisor for Africa, Ibrahim Gambari, briefed the Council on his recently completed trip to that country, which was aimed at finding ways in which the United Nations could help accelerate the peace process.

This afternoon at 3:00, Council members will once again gather in a public meeting for the traditional wrap-up session for the month of December.

At this time, there are no Council meeting scheduled for next week.

When the Council meets again in January, it will be under the presidency of Mauritius.

EAST TIMOR, PETROLEUM COMPANY AGREE ON GAS DEVELOPMENT

The UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) says the East Timor transitional government and Phillips Petroleum have reached an understanding on allowing gas development in the Timor Sea to proceed.

The Chief Minister of the Transitional Government, Mari Alkatiri, said, Petroleum revenue from the Timor Sea, and from Bayu-Undun in particular, will go a long way towards alleviating poverty in East Timor and will open up other investment opportunities in the joint East Timor-Australia area of the Timor Sea.

It is estimated that revenues from gas development in the area will be worth between $2.5 billion and $3 billion over the life of the field.

Also today, East Timors Constituent Assembly says it expects to meet the deadline of January 25, 2002, to approve the draft constitution for East Timor.

REPORT: GROWTH DID NOT SPUR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

In a report issued Thursday, the Secretary-General said that global economic growth during the 1990s did not promote sustainable development, and that in most parts of the developing world, there was limited progress at best in reducing poverty.

The report says that economic statistics were impressive during the past decade, with exports amounting to more than six trillion dollars in the year 2000. However, financial resources for sustainable development remained insufficient, patters of consumption and production continued to be unsustainable and the approach to development remained fragmented and piecemeal.

The report is to serve as a factual document for next years World Summit on Sustainable Development, which is to begin in Johannesburg, South Africa, next August 26.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Asked about developments in Argentina, the Spokesman said the United Nations was following the evolving situation with concern. He said the United Nations deplored the recent violence and hoped that a solution could be found within Argentinas Constitutional framework.

The organizer of a Hutu youth movement who has been indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for genocide and other crimes committed in that country was arrested today in Brussels, Belgium. The suspect, Joseph Nzabirinda, is alleged to have carried out crimes in the Rwanda commune of Ngoma, where several thousand Tutsi were killed, during the 1994 genocide.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in its briefing note today, says it will begin airlifting shelter supplies next week from Kinshasa for the construction of shelters for refugees from the Central African Republic at a new site that has prepared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Today, Australia signed two of the Protocols supplementing the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. The Protocol Against the Smuggling of Migrants now has 97 signatories and the Protocol on firearms has 20 signatures.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS Saturday, December 22 The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, will attend the inauguration of the Interim Authority for Afghanistan in Kabul.

Sunday, December 23 Monday, December 24 Today will be a half-day of work at UN Headquarters, as the Christmas Holiday begins.

The Spokesmans Office will not provide its regular noon briefing this week. Instead, the highlights of the days activities will be posted on the Spokesmans Highlights page (www.un.org/News/ossg/hilites.htm).

Tuesday, December 25 Today is Christmas, and UN Headquarters will be closed.

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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