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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-05-15

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 15, 2003

UNITED NATIONS IS TRYING TO BROKER CEASE-FIRE IN BUNIA, DR-CONGO

The counterattack on Bunia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), announced by Lendu militia for 9:00 this morning never materialized, but sporadic fighting continued as of mid-day.

The UN Deputy Force Commander, Brig. Gen Roberto Martinelli, met today with leaders of the various warring sides, the Hema and the Lendu, to try and broker at least a 24-hour cease-fire in order to move internally displaced people to more secure locations.

Suspected cases of cholera and dysentery have appeared among the 8,000 or so displaced persons who have taken refuge in each of the two UN compounds in Bunia.

The revised toll of yesterdays mortar attack on one of the compounds is five dead and 100 injured.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has brought in a Congolese medical team from Goma with three surgeons working out of a mobile clinic to support the UN medical team. UN humanitarian workers report that although there is a strong ethnic mix among the displaced, inter-ethnic relations in the two camps are good.

Political talks are also scheduled for today in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where DRC President Joseph Kabila may meet with members of the Ituri Pacification Commission (IPC) as well as leaders of armed groups to try and find a means of bringing peace through the interim administration established by the IPC late last month.

No further information is available on the two UN military observers who have been missing since Tuesday, but the search for them continued today.

Asked about the status of talks regarding a possible intervention force in Bunia, the Spokesman said that the names of possible troop contributors are never released until a deal is sealed. However, the Spokesman added, the United Nations is pleased with the discussions so far with a number of countries for Africa, Europe and Asia having made active expressions of interest in this regard.

IRAQ: SECURITY COUNCIL CONTINUES DISCUSSIONS ON DRAFT RESOLUTION

The Security Council has no meetings or consultations scheduled today.

Following a day of consultations on Iraq yesterday, Council members agreed to meet at the experts level this afternoon to consider a new draft resolution on Iraq.

Also today at 3:30 p.m., the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee is scheduled to meet in Conference Room 7.

IRAQ: TOP HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICIAL CALLS FOR PROTECTION OF GRAVE SITES

In Geneva, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello issued a statement expressing concern that evidence of past serious human rights violations in Iraq may be lost unless immediate measures are taken to preserve it. Among those measures would be securing mass grave sites and allowing appropriate access to those sites by independent forensic experts.

De Mello added that all relevant evidence concerning human rights violations must be secured and made available to the Special Rapporteur dealing with human rights in Iraq, as well as to jurisdictions that might be established to deal with grave violations of human rights committed by the former regime.

Kenzo Oshima, the UNs Emergency Relief Coordinator and head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs will arrive in Baghdad tomorrow. In the following days he will also visit Basra and the Lower South region of the country. The purpose of the trip is to gain a first-hand appreciation of the humanitarian situation in Iraq, as well as the future humanitarian needs within the country. He will meet with UN staff and NGOs, as well as members of the U.S.-run Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance.

UN COURT OFFICIAL SAYS SIERRA LEONE REBEL WAS KILLED IN LIBERIA

This morning, the Chief of Investigations of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Alan White, announced that he had credible information that the family of indicted war criminal Sam Bockarie had been killed in Liberia.That information, he said, casts serious doubts about the claims regarding the circumstances of Bockaries death, and he argued that Liberian President Charles Taylor continues to obstruct the Tribunals efforts.

For the past 10 days, the authorities in Liberia have refused to transfer the body to the Court for an independent forensic examination in order to provide positive identification. The Office of the Prosecutor has repeatedly called on President Taylor to cooperate with the Courts work, to no avail.

A press release issued by the Special Court also said that in an interview with the Washington Post, the Special Courts Chief Prosecutor, David Crane, charged that Bockarie was executed by Taylors chief of security, Gen. Benjamin Yeaten.

[UN High Commissioner for Refugees Rudd Lubbers has warned Liberian officials that the humanitarian situation in their country has gone "from bad to worse" and urged them to support an effort to build a new democratic Liberia. Lubbers had been expected to meet with Liberian President Charles Taylor on Wednesday but he failed to show for the meeting.]

EX-RWANDAN INFORMATION MINISTER INDICTED ON GENOCIDE CHARGES

Today in Arusha, Tanzania, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda convicted the former Rwandan Information Minister Eliézer Niyitegeka of genocide and crimes against humanity, and sentenced him to prison for the rest of his life. The Tribunal also convicted a former municipal official of Bicumbi commune, Laurent Semanza, to 25 years imprisonment for complicity to commit genocide and crimes against humanity.

The judgments handed down today include the first conviction the Tribunal has passed down for other inhumane acts, including the decapitation and castration of a man and the sexual mutilation of a dead woman.

UN ROAD MISSIONS TO TRAVEL WITH ARMED ESCORTS IN SOUTHWEST AFGHANISTAN

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, responding to increasingly serious security incidents affecting the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, announced that it has taken new measures for southwest Afghanistan. Road missions will only take place with armed escorts provided by the Afghan authorities at a level commensurate with security requirements.

These measures, according to the mission, reflect its commitment to continue operations in all areas to the maximum extent possible.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has hosted the first-ever meeting of a commission with the government of Afghanistan and the UN refugee agency to discuss the ongoing return and reintegration of Afghan refugees. The so-called Tripartite Commission, held on Wednesday in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, marked the start of a formal process for resolving one of the world's longest-running humanitarian concerns.

WHO: NO RECENT TRANSMISSION OF SARS IN TORONTO

The World Health Organization has removed Toronto, Canada, from the list of areas with recent local transmission of SARS. The chain of transmission is considered broken since in the past 20 days, which is twice the maximum incubation period for SARS, no further cases have occurred. Earlier, Toronto had also been removed from the list of areas for which WHO has issued recommendations pertaining to international travel.

WHO will hold a meeting of epidemiologists on SARS Friday and Saturday in Geneva.

The latest statistics on SARS indicate a total of 7,628 probable cases and 587 deaths, reported from 29 countries.

DEPUTY SG DISCUSSES CRISIS MANAGEMENT WITH EU OFFICIALS

Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette is in Brussels today where she met with the European Unions Political and Security Committee. Among the topics discussed were EU-UN cooperation on crisis management.

Afterwards, the Deputy Secretary-General went on to a series of meetings with the General Secretariat of the European Council and the European Commission.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

HUMAN RIGHTS: Asma Jahangir, the Special Rapporteur dealing with extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, is gravely concerned about a potentially dangerous situation developing at military-controlled farms in Okara, Pakistan. She has received reports that, on May 11, a unit of Pakistani Rangers under the direct control of the Pakistani military shot at a crowd that was demonstrating against the excessive use of force on previous occasions, and killed one demonstrator. The Rangers have surrounded the farm tenants, and there are worries about the possibility of further violence.

PERU/DRUGS: A new survey conducted by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the Government of Peru shows that coca cultivation in Peru has remained stable over the past year, dispelling fears that there was a major shift in coca cultivation recently to Peru from neighboring Colombia.According to the survey, some 46,700 hectares of coca were under cultivation in Peru last year, a one percent increase from survey results for 2001. The Office on Drugs and Crime two months ago published a report on Colombia that showed a 30 percent reduction in coca cultivation from 2001 to 2002. As a result, coca cultivation in the Andean region as a whole which comprises Peru, Colombia and Bolivia dropped by 17 percent last year, to 173,100 hectares, the first drop recorded in over a decade.

DAY OF VESAK: The Secretary-General issued a message today to mark the occasion of the Day of Vesak, on which Buddhists mark the life of the Buddha some 2,500 years ago. The Secretary-General says that the teachings of the Buddha should prompt us to be more mindful of all our fellow human beings and of succeeding generations.

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FAMILIES: Today is International Day of Families, dedicated to raising the awareness of family issues and improving the institutional capabilities of nations to tackle serious family-related problems. The Secretary-Generals message was issued last week.

UN BUDGET: Ghana today made a payment of more than $67,000 to become the 81st Member State to pay its 2003 regular budget contribution in full.

  • The guest at the Noon Briefing was Ali Muktar Farah, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Monrovia, Liberia. He briefed journalists on the humanitarian crisis in Liberia.

    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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