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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-05-13

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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

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

ANNAN CONDEMNS TERRORIST ACTS IN SAUDI ARABIA, RUSSIA

In a statement, the Spokesman said that over the past 24 hours, the world has had to bear witness, yet again, to heinous acts of terrorism. In both the Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia many innocent people, going about their daily lives or asleep in their beds with no warning of what was to come, have lost their lives in cruel ways.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan strongly condemns the vicious acts which took place in Znamenskoye and Riyadh. They were against all decent tenets of religion, against human rights, indeed against humanity. Terrorism can never be justified.

FIGHTING ERUPTS AGAIN IN BUNIA, DR CONGO

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reports that Lendu militia, who were driven out of Bunia Monday by rival Hema fighters, have regrouped and this morning launched a counteroffensive to regain control of the town.

Fighting was taking place within 500 meters of the UN Headquarters compound in Bunia, while at the airport, where the UN also has a base, mortar fire was reported.

Mission staff are particularly concerned about the welfare of some 8,000 civilians that have taken refuge at both UN locations. Although the Spokesman could not confirm a wire service report that a woman in the Headquarters compound was killed by a stray bullet, UN soldiers, in limited patrols of the town, spotted at least 40 bodies in the streets.

On entering the United Nations this morning, the Secretary-General said that France had indicated its willingness, in principle, to participate in an international force to be sent to the DRC, provided it has a clear Security Council mandate and other Governments join in. So we are in touch with other Governments, he said, trying to see if they will join France in such an effort.

He added that he had been in touch this morning with South Africas President, Thabo Mbeki, who is talking to other leaders in the region about how to respond to the crisis in the DRC and that he had also asked the Ugandan Government to use its influence in the region to ensure that the militia and the people in the region restrain themselves.

ANNAN SAYS COUNCIL COULD PROVIDE HELPFUL IRAQ RESOLUTION

On his way into the building this morning, the Secretary-General was asked for his opinion on the draft resolution on Iraq currently under discussion in the Security Council. He said the text touches upon most of the issues weve been discussing, although it does not deal with one or two issues.

He added, I think with a good, open, constructive and flexible attitude they will be able to come up with a resolution that will be helpful for everybody.

The UN presence in Baghdad continues to increase, with more than 250 international staff present throughout the country.

The priority for the UN humanitarian actors in Iraq continues to be security, especially in the capital and in the south, including Basra. The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ramiro Lopes da Silva, has been insisting on this point at all his meetings with Coalition military officials as well as with representatives of the Office for Humanitarian and Reconstruction Affairs.

On the refugee front, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says it is growing increasingly alarmed about the rising number of refugees in Iraq who are being threatened, robbed and forced from their homes, sometimes at gunpoint.

In addition to the fate of Palestinian refugees, UNHCR says that this worrying phenomenon, brought about by the collapse in governance and the widespread security vacuum, may now be affecting a similar number of Iranian refugees. In all, there are more than 23,000 Iranian refugees in Iraq.

On the health issue, the World Health Organization said that in the northern city of Mosul there was a five-fold increase in diarrhea, especially in adults. The agency has also detected a seven-fold increase in acute hepatitis.

Asked whether the Security Councils mission to West Africa would distract the Council from the Iraq issue, the Spokesman noted that there has been some discussion of that issue among Council members, but any decision to change that program would have to come from the Council.

TOTAL VALUE OF ITEMS IN OIL-FOR-FOOD PIPELINE AT $778 MILLION

The Office of the Iraq Programme tells us that the total value of priority items from the oil-for-food programs humanitarian pipeline that can be shipped to Iraq by June 3 has now reached $778 million.

Among the priority items are a floating crane for the removal of shipwrecks now obstructing some berths at the port of Umm Qasr, and harbor dredgers to increase the draft available to ships carrying humanitarian supplies.

Benon Sevan, Executive Director of the Office of the Iraq Programme, will brief the Security Council on the implementation of resolutions 1472 and 1476 on Wednesday.

ANNAN ENCOURAGES SECURITY COUNCIL ROLE IN SETTLING DISPUTES

The Secretary-General today encouraged the Security Councils role in the pacific settlement of disputes, which according to Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter stands at the heart of the Organization's system of collective security.

His remarks were made at the start of todays open meeting on The Role of the Security Council in the Pacific Settlement of Disputes chaired by Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmud Kasuri, in his capacity as Council President.

The Secretary-General said, You can help identify and address root causes early, when the opportunities for constructive dialogue and other peaceful means are greatest. You can ensure an integrated approach that brings together all factors and all actors, including civil society.

He added, Let us be imaginative. Let us use what influence we have. And let us focus on implementation and action.

Sir Brian Urquhart, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Special Political Affairs, former UN Personal Representative for East Timor Jamsheed Marker, and Nabil Elaraby, Judge of the International Court of Justice, also spoke.

After that meeting, the Council is scheduled to vote on a draft resolution to set up a peacekeeping mission in Cote d'Ivoire.

ANNAN SEES HISTORIC JUNCTURE FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE

Today, we find ourselves at a historic juncture in the quest for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, said the Secretary-General in a message to the UN international meeting in support of Middle East peace, which is being held in Kiev, Ukraine.

Recent positive developments, such as the release of the Quartet Road Map and the appointment of an empowered Palestinian Prime Minister, should not make us complacent, Annan said in the message, delivered by Danilo Turk, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs.

Both sides should recognize that they are partners in this endeavor and can only succeed or fail together. They should not allow extremists to hijack the process and dictate agendas, he added.

ANNAN SAYS NO ALTERNATIVE TO DIPLOMACY FOR KOREA

On Monday afternoon, the Secretary-General met with President Roh Moo-Hyun of the Republic of Korea, telling him that the United Nations would press ahead on humanitarian assistance, and eventually development assistance, to the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK).

That evening, the Secretary-General issued a message to the annual dinner of the Korea Society, which was in honor of President Roh, in which he noted the consensus in the international community that the Korean peninsula should be free from nuclear weapons and that this should be achieved by peaceful means.

He voiced his hope that the recent trilateral talks in Beijing mark the beginning of a diplomatic process that will lead to a resolution of the matter. That process, he added, may be difficult and even frustrating at times, but there is no alternative to it. He pledged the United Nations full support.

UN POLIO CAMPAIGN WILL FOCUS ON 13 COUNTRIES

The United Nations Children's Fund and the World Health Organization and their partners in the Polio Eradication Initiative today announced a shift in tactics for dealing with the disease. Immunization campaigns in the 93 countries where polio transmission has already been stopped will be revised to commit more resources to those seven countries in which the disease is still endemic.

For the rest of this year and during 2004, eradication campaigns will focus on the seven countries Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan and Somalia as well as six other countries where there is a high risk of re-infection (Angola, Bangladesh, DRC, Ethiopia, Nepal and Sudan). The new policy will result in 297 million doses of oral polio vaccine and $35 million in additional resources being shifted to the thirteen countries.

REPORT NOTES GAP BETWEEN AIDS PREVENTION EFFORTS AND NEEDS

The first analysis of the gap between current efforts and future needs in preventing HIV says that by 2005, global funding will fall short by $3.8 billion. The new report, Access to HIV Prevention: Closing the Gap says that fewer than one in five people at risk of HIV infection today have access to prevention programs. Only 5 percent of pregnant women have access to voluntary HIV counseling and testing and only 24 percent of people at high risk have access to AIDS education.

The report identifies key prevention priorities for each region in the world and recommends that global spending from all sources should be increased from the current level of $1.9 billion to $5.7 billion by 2005 and to $6.6 billion by 2007. It also recommends that prevention and treatment programs must be scaled up to ensure that those who test positive have fast access to treatment and the tools to protect others from infection.

The report was produced by the Global HIV Prevention Working Group that includes the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the World Health Organization and the Pan-American Health Organization, the United Nations Children's Fund and the World Bank.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

UN INFORMED ABOUT EXPULSION OF CUBAN DIPLOMATS: The Spokesman, asked about the reported expulsion of seven Cuban diplomats to the United Nations by the U.S. authorities, said that, under the Host Country Agreement, the U.S. Secretary of State has to be consulted and to approve such a decision, and the United Nations would have to be informed. UN Legal Counsel Hans Corell was informed of the decision to expel the diplomats on Monday night.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS POLAND: Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette is in Poland, where on Monday she met with Government officials and UN staff. In the afternoon, she addressed the Diplomatic Academy in Warsaw on the challenges faced by the international community. Today, she visited Krakow and will meet this afternoon with students at the Jagiellonian University. She leaves Poland Wednesday for Strasbourg.

MEETING ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING OPENS: Human trafficking is the focus of discussion at the 12th session of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, which began today in Vienna, and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime says its new database findings confirm that women and children are the majority of trafficking victims. The Office adds that Asia, the former Soviet Republics and Africa are the major regions of origin for trafficked persons, and that Central Asia and Eastern Europe have served as transit areas for such trafficking.

SIGNINGS: This morning, Uruguay became the 56th country to sign the Tampere Convention on the Provision of Telecommunication resources for Disaster Mitigation and Relief Operations.

UN BUDGET: The Republic of Moldova today became the 79th Member State to pay its 2003 regular budget contribution in full, with a payment of more than $27,000.

style="line-height:12.0pt;mso-layout-grid-align:none;

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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