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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-05-14

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 14, 2003

UN MISSION REPORTS INTENSE FIGHTING IN BUNIA IN NORTHEAST DR CONGO;

SITUATION "EXTREMELY DIFFICULT AND VOLATILE"

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or MONUC, reports that the situation in Bunia continues to be extremely difficult and volatile, with intense fighting going on between ethnic Hema and Lendu militias in the town of Bunia itself, as well as around the airport. The UN Missions headquarters in Bunia is wedged in the area between the two groups.

Today, a shell landed in the UN Missions compound, killing one person and wounding thirteen others.

The United Nations confirmed wire service reports from yesterday that one woman was killed yesterday while inside the UN Missions Bunia headquarters. A civilian was in fact killed by a stray bullet yesterday while she was in the compound, and one mortar shell also landed in the compound yesterday.

MONUC has also reported that two UN military observers have been missing since 11:00 a.m. local time yesterday from Mongbwalu, five kilometres north of Bunia. All attempts are being made to locate them.

There has also been an increase in the number of internally displaced persons seeking shelter at the Missions Bunia headquarters, and a makeshift medical clinic has been organized there to deal with the situation.

Asked about the follow-up to the Secretary-Generals call for Member States to contribute forces to stabilize the situation in Bunia, the Spokesman said the Secretary-General was still waiting for responses. France has indicated it will join that effort, but will not do it alone. There has also been some discussion of participation by African troops. The Spokesman added that any troops that go in to the Democratic Republic of the Congo would have to have the capacity to deploy within days, since the situation is deteriorating rapidly.

UN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER CONCERNED ABOUT RIGHTS IN DRC

High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello today expressed his grave concern at the latest reports of indiscriminate killings in Bunia, in the Democratic Republic of the Congos Ituri region, and in particular at reports that civilians are being killed because of their ethnicity.

The UN Mission in that country, as well as the High Commissioners office, have just completed their report on the massacres that took place last month just northeast of Bunia, in Drodro, and that document will be submitted to the Security Council shortly.

The High Commissioner pledges his complete support to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in investigating these events, and warns the perpetrators that there will be no impunity.

SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON IRAQ DRAFT RESOLUTION

The Security Council is holding consultations on a draft resolution on Iraq today, with UN Legal Counsel Hans Corell and Benon Sevan, Executive Director of the Office of the Iraq Programme, available to answer questions from Council members. Rafeeuddin Ahmed, the Secretary-Generals Special Adviser, is also in attendance.

These consultations are resuming this afternoon.

UN HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR MEETS WITH U.S. ENVOY IN IRAQ

In Baghdad today, the UNs Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ramiro Lopes da Silva, met for the first time with Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. Presidential Envoy to Iraq.

Afterwards, in speaking to reporters, Bremer said they had discussed ways in which the United Nations and its specialized agencies can be of assistance in the programme of recovery in Iraq. They focused on how the World Food Programme could use money from the Oil for Food account to purchase the next crop of wheat and barley from Iraqi farmers.

Lopes da Silva stressed the United Nations' immediate concern, which is security. Security in the broad sense: law and order, not for us as persons but for the society, da Silva said.

Da Silva added that the United Nations did have the authority under Security Council Resolution 1472 to undertake local procurement, but related to that effort is also the law and order situation, so that money and persons can move about safely.

UNICEF: ACUTE MALNUTRITION RATES DOUBLE IN BAGHDAD CHILDREN

The UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) says a nutrition assessment of Baghdad shows that acute malnutrition rates in children under five have nearly doubled since February 2002. The assessment was confined to Baghdad because of general insecurity throughout the country. Nevertheless, it shows that 7.7 per cent of children under age five are suffering from acute malnutrition, compared with last years figure of 4 percent. Acute malnutrition signifies that a child is actually wasting away.

A UNICEF nutrition specialist in Baghdad said that the survey found that more than 1 in 10 children were in need of treatment for dehydration. Poor water and sanitation leads to diarrhea, and then to dehydration and malnutrition.

UNICEF is working to trucking in water and chlorine tablets is also working on emergency repairs to water stations. A convoy carrying some 80 metric tons of relief supplies crossed the Iran-Iraq border this morning bound for Baghdad.

Asked about reports that the United States has instituted a shoot-to-kill policy to deal with looters in Iraq, the Spokesman said he had seen the reports, but they have not been confirmed by the United Nations, which has no reaction. He reiterated that security in Iraq is the direct responsibility of the occupying powers, not the United Nations.

UN ENVOY TO PAY 10TH VISIT TO MYANMAR

Razali Ismail, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Myanmar, will visit Yangon next month from June 6 to 10. It will be his 10th mission as Special Envoy.

The Secretary-General hopes that the Special Envoys visit will reinvigorate the process of national reconciliation in Myanmar, which appears to have stalled over the past several months. He reiterates his call on both the Government and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, General Secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD), to redouble their efforts to start substantive political dialogue by taking advantage of Razalis forthcoming.

SECURITY COUNCIL ESTABLISHES PEACEKEEPING MISSION IN COTE DIVOIRE

Towards the end of the afternoon Tuesday, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution establishing a UN mission in Cote d'Ivoire (MINUCI) for an initial period of six months.

The Council authorized the new Mission to facilitate implementation by the Ivorian parties of the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement.

The Mission would include the deployment of a military liaison group on the basis of the recommendation by the Secretary-General in his report on Cote dIvoire. The resolution says the military component should initially include 26 military officers and that up to 50 additional officers might be progressively deployed when the Secretary-General determines that there was a need and security conditions permitted.

In addition to the military liaison group, the Council approved the establishment of a small staff to support the Special Representative on political, legal, civil affairs, civilian police, elections, media and public relations, humanitarian and human rights issues.

SECURITY COUNCIL TO RESCHEDULE POSTPONED WEST AFRICA MISSION

Council President, Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan, yesterday noted the postponement of the Security Council mission to West Africa, which had been scheduled to leave tomorrow.

The President said that there is still a sense of urgency and that the mission would be rescheduled as soon as possible. Council members are expected to discuss possible new dates of the mission during todays consultations.

SIERRA LEONE COURT URGES LIBERIA TO TRANSFER BODY OF INDICTED WAR CRIMINAL

The Chief of Investigations of the Special Court for Sierra Leone has called on Liberian President Charles Taylor to transfer the alleged body of indicted war criminal, Sam Bockarie, to the Court.

Alan White also repeated demands for the arrest and transfer of Johnny Paul Koroma, who is wanted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. He said, The failure to arrest Johnny Paul Koroma and transfer him alive to the Court only highlights Liberias apparent unwillingness to cooperate with the international community in pursuit of international justice. The world is watching. We hope Taylor will do the right thing.

The Special Court, created through an international agreement between the United Nations and Sierra Leone, is mandated to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for atrocities committed during the countrys decade-long civil war.

UN ENVOY DISAPPOINTED AT COVIC DEPARTURE FROM TALKS ON KOSOVO

he Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Kosovo, Michael Steiner, today described the departure of Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic from a scheduled meeting of the High Ranking Working Group that has been dealing with Kosovo as disappointing.

He also voiced his dismay that a protocol allowing mutual recognition of number plates for vehicles has not been signed, saying that such a signing would help the freedom of movement of all communities, especially Kosovo Serbs.

ARAB COUNTRIES MAKE STRIDES IN EDUCATION

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, has issued a new report on education in Arab states that finds that eight million children of primary school age, or nearly one fifth, in the 19 Arab states surveyed remain out of school and five million of them are girls. Only 60 percent of secondary school age children were enrolled and it was found that more girls than boys attended school at this level.

Considerable investment has been made in education in the region and many countries were close to the objective of getting all children into schools.Gender parity has only been achieved in five countries but when girls are given the opportunity to go to school the tend to repeat grades less than boys and are more likely to complete their primary and secondary schooling.

The report concludes that the large increase in spending on education in the last 40 years has paid off with the time children spend in school increasing by about two and a half years. The report covers the 1999/2000 school year and does not take into account the effect of the conflicts in the Palestinian Territories and Iraq.

FIVE MILLION MORE JOBS MAY BE LOST IN TOURISM SECTOR

The International Labour Organization warned today that an additional 5 million jobs may be lost in the tourism sector due to SARS and the general downturn in the global economy. This is in addition to 6.5 million jobs already lost last year.

A new report says the slump in the industry comes after a strong global economy fueled a boom in the late 1990s. By the year 2001, the industry had begun to feel the effects of security concerns caused by the events of 11 September. Since 2001, the industry has lost one in seven jobs and ILO says there is no end in sight.

WHO SAYS SARS CAN BE CONTAINED AND CONTROLLED

The World Health Organization has announced that outbreaks of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in the initial hot zones can be contained, and that experiences in a growing number of countries indicate that the disease can be controlled.

In the absence of a vaccine, the most effective way to control SARS is to break the chain of transmission from infected to healthy persons.

However, while trends are moving in an encouraging direction in many areas, even greater focus on control measures is needed if SARS is to be contained globally.

WHO's experiences with Ebola virus outbreaks have repeatedly shown that the initial stages of containment are the most dangerous time to start lowering the level of control.

The latest statistics indicate a total of 7,548 probable cases, with 573 deaths, reported from 29 countries.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

UNESCO MEETS ON ANTI-SEMITISM: Today in Paris, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, is wrapping up a three-day conference entitled Educating for Tolerance: the Case of Resurgent Anti-Semitism. In remarks to participants, UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura stressed in the central role of education in promoting the values of tolerance, especially in young people. Participants in the seminars included UN Human Rights High Commissioner Sergio Vieira de Mello, Rabbi Marvin Heir, Founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former NATO Supreme Commander Gen. Wesley Clark as well as number of religious and political leaders from around the world.

GLOBAL COMPACT HOLDS TALKS ON HIV/AIDS: The Global Compact convened a policy dialogue on HIV/AIDS in Geneva on Monday and Tuesday, which was attended by more than 100 representatives from business, labor, civil society, academia, government and multilateral organizations, and which focused on the International Labour Organizations Code of Practice dealing with HIV/AIDS and work. At the meeting, the International Organization of Employers and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions announced an agreement to cooperate in the global fight against HIV/AIDS, and they issued a joint statement calling on their affiliates and members around the world to give HIV/AIDS the highest priority.

SADRUDDIN AGA KHAN: A statement was issued late yesterday, expressing the Secretary-Generals deep sorrow at the death of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, the former UN High Commissioner for Refugees, philanthropist and lifelong friend of the United Nations. Prince Sadruddin led the Office of UNHCR at a particularly challenging time, during the war that led to the birth of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh, and he also served the UN in many other capacities, including as Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for Humanitarian Assistance during the 1990-91 Iraq-Kuwait crisis. The Secretary-General joins the Princes many friends around the world in giving thanks for the life of this remarkable and deeply generous human being. High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello, said he was fortunate to have started his career in UNHCR under Prince Sadruddins leadership, adding that his positive impact on the lives of so many people was incalculable.

DEATH OF UN OFFICIAL MARYAN BAQUEROT: The Secretary-General was saddened to learn of the sudden death yesterday of Mr. Maryan Baquerot, a long-time United Nations colleague. In a statement, he said Mr. Baquerot served most recently as an Executive Director of the World Health Organization, and before that as Director of Administration at the UN Office in Geneva. He was also Chief of Staff and Director of Administration of the UN Mission in Kosovo, Director of Human Resources for UNHCR, and served in the Office of Human Resources Management and Controllers Office in New York. Whatever the assignment, Mr. Baquerot made important contributions and was highly respected by his colleagues. The Secretary-General extends condolences to Mr. Baquerots wife, daughter and parents, and to all others touched by this loss.

UN BUDGET: Today, Andorra became the 80th Member State to pay its regular contribution this year with a payment of more than $54,000.

  • The guests at the briefing were Carolyn McAskie, Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator and Margaret Carey, Principal Officer in the Africa Division of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, on the situation in Bunia.

    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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