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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-05-01

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

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, May 1, 2003

ANNAN "DEEPLY DISTURBED" BY ISRAELI INCURSION IN GAZA

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement released through his Spokesman, said he is deeply disturbed by Israeli military incursions today in Gaza City and the Rafah refugee camp, in which at least eight Palestinians were killed and many others injured. He stresses that such actions, including the reported house demolitions, are contrary to international humanitarian law.

He believes that they contradict the international community's efforts to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, following yesterday's presentation to the parties of the Road Map for Middle East peace.

The Secretary-General remains convinced that there is no military solution to this conflict and calls on Israel to work with Prime Minister Abu Mazen to establish effective cooperation ensuring security for both Israelis and Palestinians.

He again urges the parties to embrace the Road Map and to work for its early implementation.

FIRST UN INTERNATIONAL STAFF RETURN TO BAGHDAD SINCE MARCH 18

UN international staff arrived at the Canal Hotel in Baghdad the long time UN headquarters in the Iraqi capital. International staff had left Baghdad on March 18, just prior to the start of the hostilities.

The Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ramiro Lopes da Silva, led the 21-person team, which traveled overland from Amman, Jordan.

Upon arrival, the team was greeted by a large number of UN national staff who had made great effort to repair and clean up as much of the facilities as possible. Over 70 percent of the UN offices had been looted during the fighting in Baghdad.

Speaking to the national staff, Da Silva thanked them and expressed his deep satisfaction at the work they had continued to do on behalf of the UN under very difficult circumstances.

The team, which includes, representatives of the World Health Organization, the World Food Programme, the UN Childrens Fund and the UN Development Programme, will now focus on getting a first hand assessment of the urgent humanitarian needs of the population so as to get UN humanitarian programmes back up and running.

The arrival of the senior delegation in Baghdad will bring to more than 90 the number of UN international staff working in Iraq.

Additional staff will enter the country in the north, center and south during May to increase the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need.

In the last humanitarian press briefing in Amman, the World Health Organization said that three truckloads of aid have arrived in Baghdad. One of the refrigerated trucks was carrying some meningitis and polio vaccines and surgical kits as part of the Norwegian government donation. These kits are sufficient to carry out on thousand surgical operations. Blood bank kits also arrived to ensure safety form HIV and hepatitis.

For its part, the World Food Programme noted that the humanitarian corridor that was established from Kuwait earlier this week is picking up momentum. Today, WFP is sending a total of 29 trucks into southern Iraqi cities of Basra and Nassiriya. WFP staff members in Basra have been able to retrieve the records of all 1.8 million beneficiaries of food rations in the province. This is a very important development to guarantee the delivery of food rations to all the population of this province when the Public Distribution System is reactivated.

UN TEAM TO SUPPORT EFFORTS TO AID TURKISH EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS

The Secretary-General, in a statement issued through his Spokesman, is deeply saddened by the loss of life, injuries and destruction caused by an earthquake in the Bingol Province of Turkey this morning. He wishes to convey his deepest condolences to the families of the deceased and to the Government of Turkey.

The United Nations has deployed a Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team to support the Turkish Government in the coordination of international response to the emergency, and assist in a rapid assessment of priority needs.

PAKISTAN ASSUMES ROTATING PRESIDENCY OF SECURITY COUNCIL

Pakistani Ambassador to the United Nations Munir Akram has succeeded Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser of Mexico as President of the Security Council for the month of May.

There are no meetings or consultations of the Security Council today as the Council President is holding bilateral meetings on the work programme for the month.

Asked if there a new resolution on Iraq had been introduced in the Security Council, the Spokesman said it had not.

SIERRA LEONE COURT SAYS TWO SUSPECTS CURRENTLY IN LIBERIA

Alan White, the chief of investigations for the Sierra Leone Special Court, says that the Courts investigators have received credible information that two of its indicted suspects are currently in Liberia.

White appealed to Liberian President Charles Taylor to hand over the two suspects, Johnny Paul Koromah and Sam Bockarie, who face charges of crimes against humanity at the Special Court. He said his office was trying to reach out to West African leaders to obtain their help in securing a handover of the two suspects.

UNICEF CHIEF CONCERNED AT RENEWED ABDUCTIONS IN NORTHERN UGANDA

The United Nations Children's Fund has said it was concerned about the recent breakdown in the ceasefire in northern Uganda and the reports, in the last few days, of renewed abductions of children and women by the Lords Resistance Army. Since the conflict began an estimated 20,000 children have been abducted, more than 5,000 in the last year alone.

In a statement, Carol Bellamy, UNICEFs Executive Director urged both the Government and the Lords Resistance Army to renew effort to agree on a ceasefire and guarantee humanitarian access to the area. She called on the parties to the conflict to do everything in their power to secure the release and return of all abducted women and children.

In other news, UNICEF also announced today a new contribution from the government of Canada of $66 million to support immunization and health programmes. The funds will help expand routine vaccination of children against tuberculosis, measles, diphtheria and tetanus as well as the highly successful Vitamin A supplementation campaign.

UNFPA GRASS ROOTS CAMPAIGN RAISES $1 MILLION

The United Nations Population Fund announced today that a grassroots campaign in the United States has raised $1 million to support the Funds programmes. The campaign, called the 34 Million Friends of UNFPA raised most of the money through small donations from Americans who wanted to help replace funds withheld by the United States government last year.

This campaign highlights the power of individuals to make a difference, said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UNFPA Executive Director. It also shows that the American people support the right of all women to have quality health care and to be able to plan their families.

INCREASE IN WOMEN LEGISLATORS SHOWN IN LATEST UN REPORT

There has been encouraging improvement in the representation of women in legislatures around the world, but the progress of women in the areas of education, literacy and employment continues to be slow, according to a new report launched today by the United Nations Development Fund for Women, UNIFEM.

Progress of the Worlds Women 2002 is the second edition of a biennial publication that tracks and measures the worlds commitment to gender equality. The current report looks at the progress towards womens empowerment in the context of the Millennium Development Goals.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS:

AFGHANISTAN: The first National Conference and Workshop to promote Sports for All in Afghanistan began today in Kabul. The three day event, organized by the Afghan National Olympic Committee, with the support from the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, will discuss the challenges to achieve sports for all in Afghanistan, in particular access by women, children and the disabled. It is expected that a Kabul Declaration on Sports for All in Afghanistan outlining the priority action areas for the future will be signed.

SARS: The World Health Organization (WHO) has said in Brazzaville, Congo, that African countries have tightened their health surveillance systems with a view to ensuring prompt detection and prevention of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. So far, the only probable case of SARS in Africa was reported in South Africa in early April, but there is no local transmission of the disease. The latest statistics on the global outbreak indicate a total of 5,663 probable cases with 372 deaths.

SIGNINGS: South Africa has become the 81st country to ratify the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the 93rd to ratify the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings.

PRESS FREEDOM: World Press Freedom Day will be observed tomorrow, and the Department of Public Information and Columbia Universitys School of International and Public Affairs will mark the occasion this afternoon, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., with a panel discussion at Columbia on Freedom of Expression in Cyberspace. To mark Press Freedom Day, the Secretary-General will issue a message and a statement.

  • The guest at todays briefing was Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, Dileep Nair, and Ambassador Peter Ole Kolby of Norway, who briefed journalists about the Organizational Integrity Initiative, which the United Nations is undertaking to mainstream ethics and integrity within the Organization.

    Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

    United Nations, S-378

    New York, NY 10017

    Tel. 212-963-7162 - press/media only

    Fax. 212-963-7055

    All other inquiries to be addressed to (212) 963-4475 or by e-mail to: inquiries@un.org


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