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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-05-07

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

Wednesday, May 7, 2003

UNITED NATIONS FACES "CHALLENGING MOMENT" UPON RETURN TO BAGHDAD

In Baghdad this morning, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ramiro Lopes da Silva, met with the European Union's Commissioner for Development Poul Nielsen. In speaking to journalists afterwards, da Silva said this is a challenging moment for the United Nations as it re-establishes its presence in Baghdad in order to provide humanitarian assistance and to provide the leadership in coordinating humanitarian work. Nielsen said he was looking to the United Nations to establish itself as the main humanitarian coordinating body.

A team from the World Health Organization, which now has a permanent presence in Basra, visited a teaching hospital in the town where doctors reported a significant increase in the number of cases of diarrhoeal diseases, gastroenteritis and dehydration. Seven cases of clinically confirmed cholera were reported, mainly among very young children. Samples from other children with suspected cholera had to be taken to Kuwait City by WHO for analysis because the medical laboratories in Basra are not functioning due to the destruction and theft of equipment and viral agents.

A visit to the Basras children hospital revealed a similar situation with doctors suspecting more cases of cholera but being unable to conduct laboratory tests.

The other overriding problem in the local health sector, according to WHO, is security. In addition to stolen equipment and hospital vehicles, female health workers particularly fear for their personal safety.

In the north of Iraq, 85 international UNstyle="mso-spacerun: humanitarian workers are currently operating there. An additional group of 31 is expected to arrive tomorrow afternoon by road from Turkey using the same re-entry point.

UN agencies are undertaking needs assessments work with priority is given to water and sanitation, assistance to vulnerable groups, the electricity supply, mine action activities, health, primary education.

The World Food Programme today welcomed a $1 million donation by Kuwait to its emergency operations in Iraq, the first by a Persian Gulf country. The funds provided by the Kuwaiti Government will be used to purchase lentils, a very important source of protein, WFP said.

The Spokesman was asked if the International Atomic Energy Agency had received a response to their request to send a team to Iraq and he replied that they had not yet received a reply from the United States.

The Spokesman was also asked about the appointment of a Special Coordinator for Iraq and he responded that the Secretary-General has said that he wants the job description before he considers someone to fill the job. The job description should come from the Security Council, he added, from deliberations and maybe in the form of a resolution, and the Council would have to approve the appointment.

When asked how the Secretary-General saw his role in the deliberations about Iraq, the Spokesman said the Secretary-General was limited by his job description in what he can do, particularly when the Council is not yet in one mind on how it wants to approach Iraq. He brought all the Members last week to his conference room and he laid out what he considered the questions the Security Council needed to address andstyle="mso-spacerun: some of options for they might want to consider.His purpose was to nudge them to a common position. The Spokesman added that the Secretary-General could not do much more than staying in touch with all the players and urging them to come to one position that could be enshrined in a resolution that could be a solid framework for how the international community as a whole is going to deal with Iraq, once the stabilization period headed by the coalition is over.

The Spokesman was also asked if the Secretary-General was defying his position in going ahead of the Security Council on the Iraq question. He replied that the Charter is limited in responsibilities it assigns to the Secretary-General in the area of peace and Security, Article 99 is only reference. Over years, he said, Article 99 has been interpreted more liberally based on the confidence of the Member States have in the Secretary-General. It is part of the conventional wisdom that the Secretary-General should not get out in front of the Security Council particularly when its divided and that probably explains why he is working quietly behind the scenes to foster consensus.

ANNAN TO MEET WITH U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE

Secretary-General Kofi Annan is scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell at 4 p.m. this afternoon at UN headquarters.

In response to a question, the Spokesman said they would probably be discussing the situation in Iraq, the road map for the Middle East and perhaps other topics.

ANNAN WELCOMES STEPS TO EASE TENSIONS BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN

In a statement issued through his Spokesman, the Secretary-General has warmly welcomed the series of reciprocal steps India and Pakistan have recently taken to ease tensions and improve bilateral relations.He hopes that these steps, starting with Prime Minister Vajpayees statement on 18 April and Pakistans positive response, will lead to the strengthening of peace and stability in the entire South Asian region.

The Spokesman added that the Secretary-General also hoped that the normalization of diplomatic relations and restoration of rail, road and air links, as well as other confidence-building measures being introduced by the two sides, will lead to the resumption of a sustained dialogue.The Secretary-General is looking forward to the peaceful resolution of the differences between India and Pakistan, including over Kashmir.

style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size: ANNAN CONDEMNS KILLINGS IN COLOMBIA

style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size: In another statement issued through his Spokesman, the Secretary-General strongly condemned the vicious killings on 5 May 2003 of ten prisoners who had been kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Among those killed were two leading activists for peace, Antioquia Governor Guillermo Gaviria and former Defense Minister Gilberto Echeverri.The Secretary-General expresses his deep condolences to the families of all the victims.

style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size: These killings represent a dangerous intensification of the conflict, he said. The kidnapping and killing of civilians and prisoners are a violation of international humanitarian law, and the FARC must be held responsible for the lives of all those whom it has kidnapped and detained.

These events should stimulate both profound reflection and immediate steps to stop the spiral of kidnappings, forced displacement, massacres and assassinations that have made civilians the primary victims of Colombia's conflict.The Secretary-Generals good offices remain at the disposal of the parties in the search for a political solution.

SECURITY COUNCIL TO SEND MISSION TO WEST AFRICA

There are no meetings or consultations of the Security Council planned for today.

The Security Council President, Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan, has sent a letter to the Secretary-General informing him of the Councils decision to send a mission to the West African sub-region from the 15th to the 23rd of May.

Attached to the letter are the terms of reference of the mission, which outlines the regional, as well as specific objectives for Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote dIvoire and Guinea Bissau.

As of now, the mission led by British Ambassador to the United Nations Jeremy Greenstock, is expected to travel to Nigeria, Ghana, Cote dIvoire, Guinea, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone. That breaks down to a country a day while in Africa.

SIERRA LEONE SPECIAL COURT CALLS FOR PROOF OF BOKARIES DEATH

Following news reports that indicted war criminal Sam Bockarie had been killed during an apparent arrest attempt by the authorities in Liberia, the Prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, David Crane, called on the Liberian Government to provide proof of Bockaries death.

Crane said that if the reports are true, Liberia should turn Bockaries body over to the Special Court for forensic examination and positive identification.

Earlier this week, Crane had asked Liberian President Charles Taylor to arrest and turn over two suspects indicted by the Court, Bockarie and Johnny Paul Koroma.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

UNHCR MOVES MEXICO OFFICE: The Office of the UN High Commission for Refugees in Mexico has moved its office in the Chiapas state closer to a major crossing point for refugee on the Guatemala border.The border at Tapachula City is the busiest crossing point on the migration route towards the United States. The exact number of illegal immigrants is not known but about 150,000 undocumented migrants are returned to their countries each year from Tapachula.UNHCR says even though only a small number of people may be refugees or asylum seekers, a protection network to identify, channel and assist people fleeing persecution is essential.

style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-weight: FAO CALLS FOR INCREASED FOOD AID IN SUB-SAHARAN COUNTRIES: The Food and Agriculture Organization, in a report released today, called for more food aid and emergency food deliveries in Sub-Saharan countries to avert possible famines. With the exception of southern Africa, the report warned that food and crop prospects in other parts of sub-Saharan Africa remain unfavourable with 25 countries facing food emergencies. The aggravated food insecurity is mainly due to severe droughts and the escalation and continuing conflict in a number of countries.

UNICEF CALLS FOR ACTION OF CHILD SEX TRADE IN ASIA: A UN Children's Fund report issued at the Sixth East Asia and Pacific Region Ministerial Consultation on Children warns that countries in the region continue to fail their children. The report, A Future for All our Children, says that the region has done well in substantially reducing deaths of children under the age of five years but greater commitment is needed to address the other challenges faced by children ranging from education and literacy to sexual exploitation. UNICEF told the conference that more than one million children aged 12 to 17 worked in the sex trade, which is growing in the region due to domestic and foreign demand.As part of its final declaration, the 25 countries decided to step up action against child trafficking and sexual exploitation of children.

UNICEF ASSISTS FLOOD VICTIMS IN KENYA: UNICEF is assisting the government of Kenya with relief items for victims of the flood in the western part of the country.UNICEF is providing oral rehydration salts to help with outbreak of diarrhoeal diseases, drugs for cholera, intra-venous fluids, mosquito nets and cooking sets.

UN BUDGET: St. Kitts and Nevis made a payment of more than $13,000 to become the 78th Member State to pay its 2003 regular budget contribution in full.Also today, France paid more than $70 million to the peacekeeping budget.

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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