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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-05-02

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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 FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, May 2, 2003

UN HUMANITARIAN AGENCIES EFFORT TO INCREASE ACTIVITY IN BAGHDAD

UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ramiro Lopes da Silva, and country team leaders from the UN Children's fund, (UNICEF), the World Health Organization, (WHO), the UN Development Programme, (UNDP), and the World Food Programme, (WFP), met today with their national staff and with representatives of non-governmental organizations in Baghdad in an effort to increase UN activity in the capital.

Tomorrow, da Silva and the UN country team will hold a press briefing at the Canal Hotel.

One day after UNICEF international staff returned to work in Baghdad, the agency outlined, in a statement released today, a series of dangers that are still stalking Iraqi children despite the end of the war, most notably the recurrent insecurity which is preventing the consistent delivery of humanitarian goods and the insufficient emphasis on opening schools, leaving children on the streets where they are exposed to hazards.

WHO is working to assist putting the Iraqi health system back on its feet. The first and most urgently needed step is to jump start hospitals and health centers across Iraq with a small amount of funding, to build on existing basic health facilities and to safeguard Iraqs medical staff. WHO estimates that $20 million per month is needed to keep the health system functioning and to make sure that each one of the key hospitals in the country can continue to provide essential health service for those who depend on it. Without this initial investment, much more will be needed to repair the damage that will inevitably result, according to WHO.

SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON PROGRAM OF WORK FOR MAY

The Security Council held consultations today on the program of work for the month of May.

Following consultations, in an open meeting, Council President, Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan, read out a presidential statement on Burundi in which Council members congratulated the Burundian parties on a peaceful transition of power in accordance with the 2000 Arusha Peace Agreement.

The Councils monthly luncheon with the Secretary-General takes place today. The Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara James Baker will also attend that luncheon.

WHO UPDATES CASE DEFINITION OF SARS, PLANS MEETING ON RELAPSES

The World Health Organization will hold a videoconference on Monday with members of their SARS clinical group to discuss the reported cases of relapse of the virus in two patients.It is not clear at present whether these cases are truly relapses or if the patients were discharged too soon and so the virus is continuing its natural course, or even if they had SARS originally. WHO is waiting for more information from the hospital where the two patients are being treated.

WHO has updated the case definition for SARS to take into account the appropriate use of laboratory results. It is recommending that a negative lab result alone should not be used to exclude infection is a suspect or probable case and the incubation period of 10 days should pass without symptoms before a confirmation of the negative status.

ANNAN APPOINTS NEW MEMBERS TO SOMALIA PANEL OF EXPERTS

The Secretary-General has sent a letter to the Security Council appointing four experts to the independent panel mandated to investigate violations of the arms embargo against Somalia. The panel is to be based in Nairobi.

On April 8, the Security Council had re-established for six months the Panel of Experts it set up last September to investigate violations of the 1992 arms embargo against Somalia.In that resolution, the Secretary-General was requested to appoint a panel of up to four experts with sufficient expertise in the areas of armament and financing thereof, civil aviation, maritime transport, and regional affairs, including specialized knowledge of Somalia.

PRESS FREEDOM DAY PANEL HIGHLIGHTS IRAQ CASUALTIES

Today is World Press Freedom Day, and Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette opened a panel discussion at the Committee on Information this morning, drawing attention to the 14 journalists killed, and two still missing, in the war in Iraq, as well as to the 136 journalists who were imprisoned around the world at the end of 2002. She spoke after the Committee paid a moment of silence in honor of the journalists killed in Iraq.

This year, the Deputy Secretary-General said, World Press Freedom Day should be used to call for action against hate media, noting the way such media helped to trigger genocide and crimes against humanity in Rwanda and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

More recently, she said, in Cote dIvoire, many media outlets began to use what were widely regarded as xenophobic messages, political manipulation, unsubstantiated claims and incitement to violence against individuals and groups, especially of specific foreign origin.

[Asked if an inquiry was being conducted into the deaths of journalists in Iraq, the Spokesman said after the briefing that no UN inquiry was taking place at this time. He noted that Article 79 of the Geneva conventions says that "journalists engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict shall be considered as civilians."]

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SIGNINGS:This afternoon, Bulgaria will become the 28th country to sign the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International criminal Court.

UN BUDGET: Italy had made a payment of more than $45 million.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

Monday, May 5

The Security Council has scheduled consultations on Liberia sanctions, which are scheduled to expire on May 6.

The Secretary-General will issue a message marking the opening of the weeklong session of the Governing Council of UN-Habitat, which will begin in Nairobi.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard is expected to brief the press at approximately 10:50 a.m.

Tuesday, May 6

The Security Council has scheduled an open briefing and consultations on Afghanistan, with a briefing by the Secretary-Generals Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi. It also intends to hold a public meeting on combating terrorism.

Wednesday, May 7

Thursday, May 8

The Security Council is expected to hold consultations on Iraq, and also expects to discuss an upcoming Council mission to West Africa.

Friday, May 9

The Security Council is expected to begin a weekend retreat at Pocantico, New York.

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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