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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-05-16

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

Friday, May 16, 2003

UNITED NATIONS WITNESSES CEASE-FIRE AGREEMENT FOR ITURI

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Amos Namanga Ngongi, today witnessed the signing in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, of a cease-fire agreement for the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The signatories included DRC President Joseph Kabila, representatives of the democratically elected Ituri Pacification Commission and leaders of the various armed groups who have been fighting for control of Ituris administrative capital, Bunia. By the agreement, the parties also recommit to the political process, agree to canton their troops within their respective headquarters and support the immediate deployment of a multinational force.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS MULTINATIONAL FORCE NEEDED URGENTLY

This morning, Secretary-General Kofi Annan sent a letter to the President of the Security Council saying that he considers it likely that the situation in Bunia could worsen and asking Council members to urgently consider his proposal for the rapid deployment to Bunia of a highly-trained and well-equipped multinational force.

That force would be under the lead of a Member State, he said, and would be authorized under the Chapter VII enforcement provision of the Charter. It would stay in position only until the UN peacekeeping mission in the country could be considerably reinforced. Because the situation in Bunia threatens to undermine the peace process in the DRC and thereby threaten international peace and security in the region, he concluded, the international community must act decisively.

The search for troop contributors to the multinational force continues to go well, with generous responses from several Member States offering both troops and logistical and financial support.

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean Marie Guehenno briefed Council Members on the latest developments in the eastern DRC. He reports that the situation in Bunia continues to be volatile. Attempts by the United Nations to broker a local cease-fire have so far been unsuccessful, although there was no fighting in the town today. Two UN military observers continue to be missing and the search for them continues.

Humanitarian agencies took advantage today of a brief lull in fighting to increase the number of humanitarian personnel in Bunia to 20 and to step up services. There are now about 12,000 civilians seeking refuge with the United Nations, 4,000 at the Headquarters compound in Bunia, 6,000 at the UN logistical base at the airport and 2,000 along the airport road. The have been given plastic sheeting and high protein biscuits as water and sanitation experts work to restore electricity and water supplies to the town. Humanitarian workers are also setting up latrines at the camps and are establishing a cholera clinic.

Congolese Red Cross personnel are clearing dead bodies from the streets.

SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS ITURI VIOLENCE IN STATEMENT

Following its consultations this morning on the DRC, the Security Council adopted a Presidential Statement in which it condemned the recent killings and other violence in Bunia, as well as the attacks against the UN Mission there.

The Council also welcomed the agreement signed by the Ituri parties in Dar es Saleem today and called on them to implement it fully and without delay. It welcomed the Secretary-General's efforts to address the urgent humanitarian and security situation in Bunia, including options for sending an emergency international force, and encouraged him to complete consultations on that effort as a matter of urgency.

Earlier this morning, the Security Council held a private meeting with troop contributors for the UN mission in Timor-Leste. The Security Council, in its consultations today, received a draft resolution extending that Mission by one year, which it is expected to consider in an open meeting on Monday.

ANNAN, IN MESSAGE ON CENTRAL AFRICA, NOTES POSITIVE DEVELOPMENTS

In a message, to 19th ministerial meeting of the UN Standing Committee on security issues in Central Africa, the Secretary-General noted that there had a been a number of positive developments in the region, notably the political reconciliation in Angola and the Republic of the Congo.

Nevertheless, the Secretary-General said, the process peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as others, remains fragile and its clear that the signing of cease fire or peace agreements are not enough the parties must honor their agreements and work with good will to implement them.

Leaders, he said, must have the courage to put the interest of their people above their own personal interest. They must truly choose the path of dialogue and fight with determination against the violation of human rights and insure that civilians are given the protection they have a right to expect.

The message was delivered in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, by the Secretary-Generals Representative in the Central African Republic, Gen. Lamine Cissé.

UN RELIEF COORDINATOR RAISES SECURITY CONCERNS WITH U.S. ENVOY IN IRAQ

Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Kenzo Oshima arrived in Baghdad earlier today to gain a first-hand appreciation of the humanitarian situation in the Iraqi capital.

Oshima met with the Heads of UN Humanitarian Agencies in Iraq and spent 90 minutes discussing the problems they currently face in delivering emergency relief. Principal among these is the lack of security, which is seriously hampering the ability of the UN to deliver humanitarian assistance to those who need it.

He then met with a number of senior Iraqi officials from the ministries of Trade, Labor and Social Affairs and Foreign Affairs. The Iraqis told him that the delivery of humanitarian assistance would change the somewhat negative view that many Iraqis hold of the United Nations because of the sanctions regime. They also raised the issue of security, which they said was a serious problem that needed a rapid solution.

During a subsequent meeting with U.S. Presidential Envoy for Iraq, L. Paul Bremer and officials from the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, Oshima raised the UNs concern over security. Another issue raised with U.S. officials was the payment of salaries to civil servants. Public sector workers must be paid if essential services are to continue, Oshima said.

Oshima will visit Basra on Saturday and Umm Qasr on Sunday.

Also, this weekend, UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director, Carol Bellamy, is due to arrive in Iraq to draw attention to the difficult situation of children. Her three-day stay will encompass activities in Baghdad and the north of the country.

In response to a question about news reports that the Secretary-General was considering UN Human Rights Commissioner Sergio Vieira de Mello as his representative in Iraq, the Spokesman said, "We don't discuss who the Secretary-General is considering for this job. The (Security) Council is still debating the resolution (on Iraq). That decision would not be made until after the resolution is adapted." He added that Vieira de Mello is very busy as the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

ENVOY PRESSES NEED TO ADDRESS PROBLEMS OF DISPLACED PERSONS IN IRAQ

The Secretary-Generals Representative on Internally Displaced Persons, Francis Deng, today issued a statement in Geneva today underscoring the need to address the problems of the one million people previously displaced in Iraq because of the policies of Saddam Husseins Government, as well as those caused by the current expulsion of people from their homes by others who are seeking to reclaim their own lost homes and properties.

The Representative suggests that, in northern Iraq, all relevant authorities should undertake the rebuilding and de-mining of thousands of destroyed Kurdish villages so that Kurds can return to their home areas.

He asks for an Iraqi commission, with a representative ethnic and religious makeup, to be established in the Kirkuk areas to enable all displaced persons to regain their land and property while assuring fairness for the more than 200,000 Arabs who have brought into these areas.

Deng adds that there must be an acknowledgement of the damage done to the Marsh Arabs and their culture and habitat in southern Iraq.

FRECHETTE: MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS CAN BE ACHIEVED

Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette continued her visit to Brussels, meeting this morning with Chris Patten, the European Commissions External Relations Commissioner.

Following that meeting, she addressed the Council of Ministers of the joint African, Caribbean and Pacific Group and the European Union. She said a lot had changed in the world since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals three years ago, making achieving the goals more challenging. The goals can be achieved, she said, "only if efforts in developing countries are supported by those with the means to provide the ODA [Overseas Development Assistance], debt relief, market access and stimulation of foreign direct investment that are needed."

She went on to say that the United Nations is mounting a four-pronged strategy to support the Goals. The first is to develop the tools to monitor progress at the global, regional and country level. Second is the launching of the Millennium Project, to identify the best strategies and practices for achieving the goals, and the Millennium Campaign is the third prong to build popular and political support for the Goals. Finally, she said the United Nations would concentrate efforts to provide concrete, coordinated assistance to partner countries.

"Achieving the Millennium Goals," she concluded, "would transform the life of millions of people. If we can build truly effective support at the country level, and sustained political commitment at the global level, we have a good chance of achieving them."

The Deputy Secretary-General is scheduled to return to New York Saturday.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

TOP UN REFUGEE OFFICIAL IN WEST AFRICA: High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers, who is in Sierra Leone today, has described the situation in neighboring Liberia as going from "bad to worse." During a meeting Thursday with Sierra Leone President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, he expressed concern about the situation in neighboring Liberia. On Sierra Leone, Lubbers praised that country has made in normalising the situation after 10 years of civil war. He also urged the Sierra Leone leader to continue supporting the return of Sierra Leonean refugees from neighboring countries. Lubbers visited a camp housing Liberian refugees to check to what extent women are now involved in the management of camps, food distribution and other key tasks. The need for greater involvement in the management of camps by refugee women was one of the key recommendations made in the wake of allegations of sexual abuse in West Africa refugee camps last year.

COLOMBIA, UNHCR SIGN ACCORD ON PROTECTION OF IDPS: The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has signed an agreement with the Colombian Senate and its human rights commission to reinforce the Senates capacity to legislate on internal displacement issues. Under the agreement, UNHCR will help with the dissemination and promotion of national and international refugee and internal displacement legislation and will provide advice and specialized training for members of the Senate and other institutions. Official Government statistics put the number of internally displaced persons in Colombia at about one million, while NGOs claim the figure is nearer three million.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

Saturday, May 17

The Secretary-General will issue a message to mark World Telecommunications Day.

Monday, May 19

The Security Council intends to hold an open briefing on the Middle East by UN Special Coordinator Terje Roed Larsen, followed by consultations on the same subject. It also has scheduled consultations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In Geneva, the World Health Assembly will begin, with the selection of a new Director-General for the World Health Organization on the agenda.

The Secretary-Generals latest report on Western Sahara is expected during the early part of the week.

Tuesday, May 20

Wednesday, May 21

The Secretary-General will issue a message to mark the ministerial conference on Environment for Europe.

This is the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

Thursday, May 22

Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette will brief the Security Council in an open meeting on the response to the humanitarian situation in Iraq. The Council has also scheduled consultations on Georgia.

Today is the International Day for Biological Diversity.

Friday, May 23

The Security Council is expected to hold consultations on Western Sahara.

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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