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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-05-08

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 8, 2003

SECURITY COUNCIL TO HOLD CONSULTATIONS ON IRAQ FRIDAY

[Following Thursday's consultations, in response to questions about a proposed U.S. draft resolution on Iraq, Security Council President, Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan, told reporters that he expected the draft resolution to be submitted tomorrow morning when the Council is scheduled to meet at 10:30 a.m. Friday.]

SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON IRAQ; WFP HEAD TO VISIT BAGHDAD

The Security Council this morning held consultations on Iraq, with a briefing by Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette on the humanitarian situation in that country.

James Morris, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), will be in Baghdad on Sunday. During his one-day visit, he will meet officials from the Iraqi Ministry of Trade and the US-led civil administration, as well as WFP and other UN staff already based in the Iraqi capital.

Over the coming five months, WFP is gearing up to deliver 1.6 million tons of food to Iraq, enough to feed the entire population of some 27 million people, 60 percent of whom are estimated to be entirely dependent on monthly food handouts. WFP has already transported more than 100,000 tons of food into Iraq, using corridors from Turkey, Syria, Iran, Jordan and Kuwait.

Meanwhile today, staff from the World Health Organization, UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) and UN Development Programme (UNDP) were able to return to their Baghdad offices, which had been severely damaged by looters.

In the north, a UN team undertook a day trip to Kirkuk from Erbil to assess the humanitarian situation there. As soon as the security situation permits it, UN international staff will establish a permanent presence in Kirkuk.

A group of 31 humanitarian workers entered Iraq this afternoon, bringing the total number of UN international staff in Iraq to approximately 250.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals reaction after he was briefed Thursday by US Secretary of State Colin Powell on a proposed US draft resolution dealing with Iraq, the Spokesman said that Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his aides were studying the proposals, but added it was too soon to react.

He added that the United States was expected to present the draft shortly to the Security Council, and the Secretary-General would take note of the Councils reaction, as well.

UN MISSION REPORTS FIGHTING IN EASTERN DR-CONGO

In Bunia, in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UN personnel are reporting continued fighting around the airport between Hema and Lendu militia members.

The continued violence, including looting, has severely hampered the ability of the United Nations and other humanitarian actors to assist the needy population. There has also been no access to some of the 2,000 people who have set up camp near the airport. In addition, 2,000 more people have taken shelter in the UN Missions compounds in the town.

As part of a reinforced UN military presence in the area, more than 400 peacekeepers were deployed, with the total rising to 600 by the weekend. The UN forces control the airport and are patrolling parts of the town.

UN officials were to meet today with members of the Ituri Pacification Commission in an effort to restore order in the town, following the withdrawal of Ugandan forces earlier this week.

Asked whether the United Nations has enough troops in Bunia to prevent a genocide, the Spokesman said the Secretary-General has been clear in asking the Security Council for additional troops.

UN SUSPENDS MINE CLEARANCE IN PARTS OF AFGHANISTAN

The United Nations has suspended mine clearance operations on the road between the Afghan capital, Kabul, and the southern city of Kandahar, and has also ordered staff not to travel by road in some parts of southern Afghanistan after attacks on UN vehicles took place in that area on May 3 and May 5.

Lakhdar Brahimi, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Afghanistan, said he was appalled at the assault on three deminers that took place May 5 in Zabul, in which two of them suffered bullet wounds. Two days earlier, one deminer had been shot dead, and another has since gone into a coma, in a separate shooting incident.

In addition to the restrictions on road movement in the south, Brahimi said that no UN road movement would take place anywhere in Afghanistan between 6:00 in the evening and 6:00 in the morning. UN security personnel are in close contact with the concerned Afghan authorities, reviewing security conditions in areas considered unsafe for UN staff to carry out work.

The UN Mission also mentioned a registered increase in the number of threats and acts of intimidation, and even physical aggression, against journalists and the media in Afghanistan. The UN Mission is paying considerable attention to all such cases and will continue to bring them to the attention of the Afghan authorities.

ANNAN SEES HISTORIC WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY IN MIDDLE EAST

In Copenhagen, Denmark, today, the Third Conference of the International Alliance for Arab-Israeli Peace began, and the Secretary-General, in a message issued at the Conference, said it was taking place at a hopeful moment, following a terrible period of death and destruction on both sides of the conflict.

He notes that the Road Map issued last week by the Quartet -- comprising the UN, the United States, Russia and the European Union -- is a significant innovation in the peace process, since it is clear about the end goal of an Israel and a Palestine living side by side in peace and security, and is equally clear about the steps for getting there.

I am convinced that we now have a historic window of opportunity, the Secretary-General says, with no previous peace plan having enjoyed such broad support as this one. But he adds that it is Israelis and Palestinians who must actually travel the road, asserting, Both must hold firm to their commitments, and not allow extremists to dictate the future.

UN MISSION LAMENTS COURT PROCEEDINGS IN GUATEMALA

The UN Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA) said that justice in Guatemala still seems to be impossible and argued that there are people who remain above the law, after three defendants, all senior army officers convicted over the death of Myrna Mack had their sentences overturned Thursday by the Appeals Court.

MINUGUA says it is lamentable that, 12 years after the brutal crime was committed, those responsible for Macks death still have not been brought to justice. MINUGUA is studying the sentences and following up with the verification process.

Myrna Mack was a Guatemalan anthropologist who released a report blaming state controlled anti-insurgency campaigns for killing hundreds of Mayan Indians.

UN MISSION ARRANGES TRANSFER OF BODIES TO KOSOVO

The first group of some 800 bodies exhumed in Serbia proper and believed to be of Kosovo Albanian missing persons will be repatriated under UN auspices today.

The transfer has been arranged by the Office on Missing Persons and Forensics of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), in cooperation with the UN Civilian Police's Missing Persons Unit and the Serbian authorities.

An UNMIK team, including an Albanian forensic pathologist, was in Belgrade Thursday to monitor the transfer of bodies exhumed from one of the sites in Serbia, at Batajnica, which were identified by DNA. Currently, 100 to 150 bodies are in the process of being identified through DNA.

PLEA AGREEMENT REACHED AT YUGOSLAVIA TRIBUNAL

On Thursday at The Hague, a three-judge trial chamber at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia held a hearing to consider an amended plea agreement between the Prosecutors Office and Serb indictee Momir Nikolic.

In that plea agreement, Nikolic would agree to plead guilty to persecutions on political, religious and racial grounds, as a crime against humanity; and, in exchange, Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte would recommend a sentence of between 15 to 20 years in prison and dismiss the remaining charges against him.

The trial chamber said it was satisfied with the plea agreement, and as a result found Nikolic guilty on the single count of persecution, adding that it would set a time and date for a sentencing hearing in due course.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENT

AD LITEM JUDGES FOR RWANDA TRIBUNAL: In a memorandum, the Secretary-General lists the names of 35 candidates, from whom the General Assembly is to elect 18 ad litem (or short term) judges for the Rwanda Tribunal. The Security Council voted on April 29 to transmit those 35 names on to the General Assembly, which is to elect the 18 judges by an absolute majority among those Member States voting.

WHO NOTES DIFFERENCES IN CALCULATING SARS MORTALITY RATES: The World Health Organization today responded to several question on an increase in the mortality rate for SARS, saying that there are different ways for calculating the rate that could account for the change in percentage. The rise in the rate from about 4 percent to 7 percent is the result of the spread of SARS to the general public, affecting more vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly. As of Thursday, a total of 6,903 cases, with 495 deaths, have been reported from 29 countries on five continents.

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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