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United Nations Daily Highlights,31-12-01

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

Monday, December 31, 2001

Instead of Noon Briefings this week, highlights of daily developments in the UN system will be provided on this page; Briefings resume on

Wednesday, January 2, 2002

ANNAN WELCOMES ADOPTION OF EURO, CALLS MOVE 'BOLD AND VISIONARY'

The Secretary-General, in a statement issued today, warmly welcomes the introduction of the Euro as the new, common currency for 300 million Europeans. The adoption of the Euro by a dozen countries, he says, represents a bold and visionary choice for unity over division, cooperation over conflict, and a common future over a divided past.

History will record the adoption of the Euro as much more than an economic decision. To see peoples and nations which once were enemies come together in the cause of prosperity for all - and to share one currency -- is to witness a political act of unity and integration.

It is an example to all the world that unity and diversity can thrive side by side - that uniting in the cause of economic progress and political stability does not mean sacrificing the unique diversity that characterizes each nation, each people. It is simply a recognition that nations can achieve much more for their individual citizens when joining forces than when acting alone.

The Secretary-General congratulates the European leaders and nations which have adopted the Euro on their decision, and hopes that it may serve as an example to every part of the world - rich and poor, developed and developing - that uniting in a common cause can bring benefits to all.

GROWING NUMBER OF AFGHAN REFUGEES CONSIDERING A RETURN HOME

At the regular UN press briefing in Islamabad today, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that throughout Pakistan, there is growing demand for repatriation assistance from Afghan refugees, both recent arrivals and others. Urban refugees originating from cities such as Kabul, Jalalabad and Mazar have approached UNHCR staff regarding voluntary repatriation to Afghanistan. Afghans with professional qualifications seem the most keen to return now.

The World Food Programme also reports today, the last day of December, that during this month it had sent an unprecedented amount of food into Afghanistan -- 114,000 metric tones -- enough to cover the food needs of 6 million Afghans for two months.

The UN Mine Action Service says that it has almost finished clearing Kabul City of new unexploded ordnance, mainly of bombs in the range of 500-2000 pounds. Two unexploded bombs remain at the airport. One of them, which is so deeply embedded in the runway that is now no longer considered a threat, will be left in place. The other cannot be removed at this time, due to lack of equipment. The Service has received a list of 103 cities where cluster bombs were dropped countrywide. No cluster bombs seem to have been used within the confines of Kabul city proper.

Tomorrow in Kabul the Afghan Health Ministry will kickoff a measles immunization campaign, with the support of the UN Children's Fund and the World Health Organization. Over the course of the next three months, it will continue in other areas of the country, reaching children in areas most difficult to access and displaced children. The aim is to reach at least 9 million children.

UN ENVOY CONTINUES CONSULTATIONS IN KABUL

In Kabul, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, continues his intensive consultations with a wide range of people, including members of the Interim Administration, intellectuals, politicians and donor representatives. The Special Representatives spokesman said at a briefing on Sunday that these meetings are taking place as part of the UN's assistance to the Interim Administration in setting up their various ministries and also as part of the process of forming a Special Independent Commission for the establishment of an Emergency Loya Jirga by 22 January, as agreed during the recent talks in Bonn, Germany.

MALI COUNCIL PRESIDENCY ENDS, MAURITIUS TAKES OVER TOMORROW

There are no Security Council meetings scheduled for today, which is also the last day of the Presidency of Ambassador Moctar Ouane of Mali.

As of tomorrow, Ambassador Jagdish Koonjul of Mauritius takes over the Presidency for the month of January.

Also tomorrow, the Council will take in five new members for a two-year term (Bulgaria, Cameroon, Guinea, Mexico and Syria) replacing five others (Bangladesh, Jamaica, Mali, Tunisia and Ukraine).

UN COLLECTS RECORD AMOUNT OF MONEY IN 2001

This year, the total collected for the regular, peacekeeping and tribunal budgets combined is at an all-time high at $4.2 billion. The previous high was in 1994, when the combined total was $3.99 billion.

A total of 135 Member States paid their regular budget contribution in full this year, five fewer than last year. And the total dollar amount for payments to the regular budget was slightly less this year, at $1.04 billion, than last year's $1.1 billion.

However, the peacekeeping budget saw a very much higher total payment compared to last year, due in large part to payment of arrears by the United States. At the end of 2001, a total of $2.9 billion has been paid to the peacekeeping budget and in 2000 the total was $1.6 billion.

Sierra Leone became the tenth member state to make a full advance payment for 2002 budget when it paid more than $11,000 today.

UN MISSION LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO RAPE ALLEGATIONS IN GOMA

On Saturday, the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo issued a press release following an incident where UN peacekeeper stationed in Goma was accused of attempted rape on a ten year old girl. In the statement, the UN mission said it deplored any act of violence, especially one committed on a minor. An investigation has been launched and if a member of the UN mission is implicated then appropriate sanctions will be taken.

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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