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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-05-12

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

Monday, May 12, 2003

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: BUNIA RETAKEN BY HEMA FORCES;

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES SITUATION

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After on-again, off-again fighting over the weekend between Hema and Lendu militia in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, two Hema groups joined forces and retook control of the town of Bunia today. Rival Lendu offered little resistance, and the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC), which is patrolling the town, report low casualties.

In a brief but violent clash on Saturday, at least twelve people were killed, including three babies, at the home of a leading Hema political figure. The UN Deputy Force Commander, Brig. Gen. Roberto Martinelli of Italy, negotiated the withdrawal of the two forces, and the situation remained stable until this morning.

The Secretary-General issued a statement Saturday afternoon expressing his alarm at the situation in Bunia. He called on the Government of Uganda to use its influence with the militias to maintain calm and on the international community to make every effort to quickly address this dire situation.

From 8,000 to 10,000 internally displaced persons have taken refuge with the United Nations, most at a compound near the airport. The United Nations fed those people today and is bringing in fresh water and medicines for them.

The Security Council was briefed by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno on the latest developments in Bunia and is scheduled to resume consultations this afternoon .

ANNAN DEEPLY ALARMED AT BUNIA SITUATION

I am deeply alarmed by the deterioration of the security situation in Bunia, the Secretary-General said in a statement released on Saturday.

He noted that the local UN offices in Bunia has been attacked by militias, despite the fact that it is sheltering thousands of innocent civilians, and that militias have also fired into crowds of displaced persons seeking shelter near Bunia airport.

On Friday, Annan said, Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean Marie Guéhenno told the Security Council that nearly 700 UN troops had been deployed to Bunia, but stressed that without decisive action, the situation might nevertheless spin out of control, leading possibly to the massive killing of civilians.

I am therefore asking the Security Council to consider effective measures to prevent the situation from deteriorating with further loss of civilian lives, Annan said in the statement.

He went on to add that I have called on the Government of Uganda to use its influence over militia forces in Ituri to maintain calm. As Ugandan troops continue to withdraw from the Ituri region, they must do so in a phased and orderly manner, with due respect for the protection of civilians.

In his statement, Annan also commend the courage shown by MONUC personnel in Bunia, as well as by members of the United Nations agencies and NGOs located there, who are trying to keep an elusive peace, despite overwhelming odds.

My heart goes out to the innocent civilians who once again find themselves at the mercy of unruly militia. The international community must make every effort to quickly address this dire situation, Annan concluded.

Asked for more detail as to what type of force the UN was proposing for rapid deployment for Bunia, the Spokesman said the Council had to consider more effective measures because the current UN military force was neither trained nor equipped to deal with the kind of violence that erupts in Bunia. The peacekeepers, the Spokesman went on to add, are there to monitor the implementation of a peace agreement and not to deal with militias that are at war.

Asked if Iraq was obscuring the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Spokesman said that there was always a risk but reminded reporters that the Secretary-General had cut short his recent trip to Europe because of his preoccupation over Iraq and the situation in the north east of the DRC.

The Secretary-General is following the dramatic situation in Bunia intensely, the Spokesman said.

The similarities between this current situation, with the on-going fighting between Hema and Lendu, to the Rwandan situation some years ago between the Hutu and the Tutsi, is why the United Nations considers this situation explosive, the Spokesman said.

UN AGENCIES STRESS THE NEED FOR INCREASED SECURITY IN IRAQ

During a press briefing in Baghdad today, the World Health Organizations representative in Iraq, Dr. Ghulam Popal, stressed the urgent need for increased security for health workers and facilities. When asked what WHOs three priorities in Iraq were, he said: security, security and security.

Popal also told journalists that all public health programmes, control measure, health education all other aspects of public health that contribute immensely to the prevention diseases and the promotion of health have collapsed. WHO, he said, had more than twenty teams in the country trying assess what the most urgent needs are.

On Sunday, James Morris, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), was in Baghdad where he met with local Iraqi officials from the Ministry of Trade as well as U.S. officials attached to the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Affairs. In a press conference in Baghdad, Morris said he expected the food distribution system to be fully operational by June 1st. Morris also noted security continues to be one of the overwhelming issues in terms of WFPs operations in Iraq.

In southern Iraq, the UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) is now sending in around 67 water tankers daily from Kuwait. This translates into more than 2 million litres of water per day. UNICEF staff is also working on repairing the water distribution system, which has been severely damaged both during the war and afterwards by looters.

Lastly, the Swedish Rescue Service is providing the United Nations with tents and equipment to increase international presence in Baghdad. More staff is expected Wednesday, including a UN Human Rights Officer with the UN Humanitarian Coordinator Ramiro Lopes da Silva.

Asked if the Secretary-General agreed with the description in the draft resolution of the UN work in post war Iraq as a vital role, the Spokesman said the adjective used in conjunction with the UN role is irrelevant without a definition. That definition is currently being debated in the Security Council and the Secretary-General does not wish to comment while that debate is on going. The Spokesman added, that the Secretary-General did not share his views on the resolution with Council members during this weekends Security Council retreat.

ISRAELI CLOSURES OF GAZA CRIPPLE WORK OF UN HUMANITARIAN AGENCY

A complete closure of the Gaza Strip imposed by Israel on UN international staff has crippled the Gaza operations of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the agency said today.

This closure, imposed as of last night, has prevented UN international staff from entering or leaving Gaza. The UNs diplomatic pouch was also blocked.

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This follows two weeks of delays, obstruction and interrogations of UN staff at the Erez crossing point into and out of Gaza.

None of UNRWAs 7,800 Palestinian staff in the Gaza Strip have been able to enter Israel on duty for the Agency since October 2000.

Karen Koning AbuZayd, UNRWAs Deputy Commissioner-General said: UNRWA understands Israels security concerns, but the fact is that nothing has ever been found on an UNRWA international staff member to warrant the searches and procedures. I find it incomprehensible that all my staff are locked in or locked out of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli authorities must lift this closure to allow us to carry out our humanitarian mandate.

UNRWAs protests to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence have so far had no effect.

DRAFT RESOLUTION ON COTE DIVOIRE INTRODUCED IN SECURITY COUNCIL

The Security Council held consultations this morning on Cote d'Ivoire during which a new draft resolution has been introduced. Council members also heard briefings from Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hedi Annabi and Carolyn McAskie, the Secretary-General's Humanitarian Envoy for the Crisis in Cote d'Ivoire on the latest situation in that country.

The Security Council Sanctions Committee on Somalia is meeting this afternoon.

UN REFUGEE CHIEFstyle="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-weight: DISCUSSES FATE OF REFUGEES IN COTE D'IVOIRE

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, today met with Côte d'Ivoire's top leaders to discuss possible solutions for refugee populations in the strife-torn West African country.

Lubbersstyle="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-weight: said UNHCR was particularly concerned about an estimated 9,000 Liberian refugees in Nicla camp, in the west of the country.

Representatives of women's and youth groups complained to Lubbers about the militarisation of the camp and recruitment of young people. They also said they were concerned about prostitution and other social problems in the camp.

ANNAN WANTS INDIGENOUS ISSUES INCLUDED IN UNS DAILY WORK

The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues began its second session this morning, and Assistant Secretary-General Angela King, at the opening of the meeting, read a statement on behalf of the Secretary-General saying that it is all the more urgent now to establish indigenous issues firmly as part of the UN systems daily work.

The Secretary-General said there is no time to lose, since indigenous peoples continue to be subjected to systematic discrimination and exclusion from economic and political power, and are more likely than others to suffer extreme poverty. We have copies of his message upstairs.

DEPUTY SG ADDRESSES POLISH DIPLOMATIC ACADEMY

Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette is in Poland today where she addressed the Diplomatic Academy in Warsaw on challenges faced by the international community.Among the challenges she highlighted were terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, the crimes of genocide and other violaitons of human rights, migration and poverty.

She said that most of the challenges faced by the world are related in one way or another to globalization and that globalization was not the cause of poverty but it offered the best chance of eradicating it.

Fréchette added that the fundamental choice is in how to deal with the challenges, whether collectively by decisions taken in common institution, or whether countries should tackle them on their own.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-weight:

ELIZABETH NEUFFER:

style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-weight: Elisabeth Neuffer, the UN-based correspondent for the Boston Globe, was killed in an auto accident on Friday north of Baghdad.

Wostyle="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-weight: rds cant express the shock we all felt in receiving this news, and the sorrow we feel for her family and her companion, Peter Canellos. UN Spokesman in Afghanistan, Manoel de Almeida e Silva, said Elizabeth was a fine example of a very serious professional journalist and a warm, compassionate human being.

style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-weight: We send our heartfelt condolences to all those of you whose lives were touched by knowing her.

style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-weight: CYPRUS: The UN Mission in Cyprus tells said that over the weekend a new crossing point in West Nicosia. This will be fourth crossing point between the two sides. The UN Chief of Mission Zbigniew Wlosowicz welcomed the fact that "another road to reconciliation on the island has been opened."

KOSOVO: Michael Steiner, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Kosovo, last Friday promulgated a regulation that would convert the land use rights held by socially owned enterprises into 99-year leases that can be freely transferred and used to secure credits. In a press release issued today, Steiner says the regulation balances the interests of all partners in the process. In it, a portion of the sale proceeds from the privatization of socially owned enterprises, fixed at 20 percent of the bid prices paid for those entities, will be distributed to their workers.

SIGNINGS: Lithuania is expected to ratify four treaties including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

style="line-height:12.0pt;mso-layout-grid-align:none; *The guest at the noon briefing was Lee Swepston, Chief of the Equality and Employment Branch of the International Labour Organization. He presented the ILO's global report on discrimination in the workplace, "Time for Equality at Work."style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-weight:

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style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-weight: 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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