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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-05-19

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:







Monday, May 19, 2003


Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement issued through his Spokesman, strongly condemned the suicide bombings and attacks against Israelis that have occurred in the past 24 hours. These murderous attacks fuel the cycle of violence, revenge, fear and distrust and are the greatest impediment to peace. The Secretary-General gave his condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones in these attacks.

The Secretary-General urged the Palestinian leadership to do everything in its power to de-legitimize and stop terrorism. He called on the Government of Israel to show restraint, to act in conformity with its obligations under international humanitarian law and to ensure that its security forces take measures to protect the safety of civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories. The Secretary-General called on both sides not to allow those who carry out such repugnant attacks to hijack the peace process and set the agenda. The Secretary-General believed that the safety and security of the people of the Middle East is best ensured by fully implementing the Quartets Road Map.


The Security Council began its work today with a periodic briefing on the Middle East by Terje Roed Larsen, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

Larsen updated Council members on recent developments, including the recent presentation of the Road Map to the parties and the establishment of the new Palestinian Prime Minister.

Larsen condemned the most recent suicide attacks, which he called senseless acts that are unjustified on any moral or political grounds.

There is a natural dependency between Israelis and Palestinians in the fight against terror, Larsen said. He added that the terror would not stop unless both sides take reciprocal acts in parallel. While such progress will require, first and foremost, determination and focus on the part of the new Palestinian Government, that Government will need support from Israel to carry out those tasks.

Larsen also highlighted the drastic effects of the new Israeli closures on UN operations in Gaza.

The current rules imposed by the Israelis bar staff from the United Nations and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) from entering or leaving Gaza, unless they hold a diplomatic visa. This leaves a significant number of UN staff stuck on either side of the boundary unable to carry out their work.

Larsen said he was in discussion with Israeli officials to ease those restrictions. However, he told Council members, if these efforts do not result in a significant improvement in access to the Gaza strip for UN staff, it will become progressively impossible to carry out UN operations in Gaza. Two-thirds of the population of Gaza is dependent on the United Nations for health, education and social services.

We would expect, Larsen went on to say, that if Israel effectively prevents the United Nations from working, it would recognize and accepts its obligations to provided the needed assistance to the people of Gaza.


A number of UN humanitarian agencies and non-governmental agencies working in Gaza protested the Israeli closures in Gaza.

While fully respecting Israels security needs, these agencies say the regulations have made their work in Gaza unreasonably difficult, inefficient and costly. If they persist, they say, a number of organizations will have to suspend their operations in Gaza.

The agencies co-signing the press release include the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the World Food Programme, Doctors without Borders and OXFAM.


After the Middle East consultations, the Security Council voted on two resolutions on Timor-Leste, extending the UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) by a year, and then on the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, revising its Statute to allow ad litem judges to adjudicate in pre-trial hearings.

Then, at 5:30 p.m., the Council has scheduled consultations in connection with Iraq.

Asked when the Security Council would vote on a draft resolution on Iraq, the Spokesman said that Council members were trying to get work on the draft resolution done as quickly as possible. He expected that the Council would discuss a third draft of the resolution this afternoon.


A team of experts put together the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today wrapped up a mission to assess the damage to Iraqs cultural sites, notably the Baghdad museum and archaeological sites.

They found that, while the looting was less extensive than first thought, the objects that were taken were of high value. Less valuable pieces, as well as copies, were left behind.

The UNESCO experts also met with officials from the U.S.-led Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. They called for coalition forces to protect cultural sites in Baghdad and also archaeological digs in the south and north of Iraq, which continue to be vulnerable to looters.

Meanwhile, in the north, the United Nations is supporting the Iraq Reconstruction and Employment Programme, which is designed to provide jobs to the local population. The first activity under the Programme began on Saturday in Mosul with a project to provide essential indoor and outdoor cleaning services to a 400-bed hospital.

Also in the north, UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Carol Bellamy continued her tour of the country today. She visited a number of UN projects in the Erbil governorate.


Mohamed ElBaradei, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), today called on the United States and other coalition authorities in Iraq to allow IAEA experts to return to Iraq to address a possible radiological emergency there.

ElBaradei said that he is deeply concerned by the almost daily reports of looting and destruction at Iraqs nuclear sites, adding, We have a moral responsibility to establish the facts without delay and take urgent remedial action.

The Director-General wrote the U.S. Government on April 29, emphasizing the responsibility of the coalition forces to maintain appropriate protection over such materials as natural and low-enriched uranium, Cobalt 60 and Caesium 137 and nuclear waste.

The IAEA has not yet received a response to that letter, and ElBaradei today repeated his request that the Agency be allowed to send a security and safety team to Iraq to deal with radiation safety and nuclear security issues without delay.


The Secretary-General is profoundly saddened by the tragic deaths of two military observers, nationals of Jordan and Malawi, whose remains were recovered yesterday from Mongwalu, a town 70 kilometers northwest of Bunia in Ituri, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The Secretary-General expresses his condolences to the families and Governments of the military observers. He also regrets the murder of two local Red Cross workers in Bunia last week.

The Secretary-General strongly condemns these appalling and shocking acts. He appeals to all concerned to cooperate with the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) in carrying out the investigations into the exact circumstances of their brutal murder. Those responsible will be held fully accountable for their actions.

The Secretary-General also wishes to convey his appreciation to the courageous men and women of the UN Mission, who are selflessly serving the cause of peace in volatile areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Secretary-General calls on all Congolese parties to renounce violence and consolidate the hard-won agreements, both at the national level and in Ituri.


The situation in Bunia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was calmer over the weekend, the UN Mission in that country reported. However, despite the Declaration made by the parties in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and an UN-brokered agreement between the Union of Congolese Patriots and Lendu parties in Bunia, Lendu militias have re-entered the town and tensions are rising. Senior military officials from the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) are now in town to try to defuse the situation.

The Follow-Up Commission began meeting in Kinshasa this morning. The United Nations has been informed that there is still a stalemate over the distribution of military posts of the Transitional Government.

On the humanitarian side, an estimated 9,000 internally displaced persons are now at the airport. The United Nations is trying to encourage those people to continue moving from town to the airport. The mobile clinic in the MONUC compound treated 60 wounded over the weekend. There were six reported killed among the population; MONUC is assisting the national Red Cross to trace and bury the dead in the town.

The outflow of internally displaced persons south towards Beni and towards Uganda remains of concern.


The Secretary-General is disappointed that, after two days of meetings in Tokyo, the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement failed to reach agreement to resume implementation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA), which they signed in December 2002.

Despite setbacks in its implementation, the Agreement had brought real improvement in the daily life of the population in Aceh. The Secretary-General is accordingly deeply concerned about reports of renewed fighting in Aceh with the imposition of martial law in the province.

He remains convinced of the need to resolve the problems in Aceh peacefully, in a manner consistent with the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Indonesia. The Secretary-General therefore urges all parties concerned to do their utmost to restore the peace process in Aceh.


In a statement issued Saturday, the Secretary-General condemned Fridays bomb attacks in Casablanca, Morocco, in which it appears that at least 40 people were killed and more than 60 were injured. He sent his heartfelt condolences to the Government and people of Morocco and to the families of all the dead and injured.

The Secretary-General especially condemned the deliberate targeting of civilians. The callous fanaticism and intolerance of these acts is repugnant to all religions and to the great majority of humanity.

The Secretary-General considers that the recent wave of terrorist outrages, coupled with fresh warnings of further attacks being planned, underlines the need for the international community to give its full attention to the need for a broad-based and sustained campaign against international terrorism.


UN HUMAN RIGHTS ENVOY CONCERNED ABOUT CAMBODIA KILLINGS: Peter Leuprecht, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia, expressed his deep concern about the recent murders affecting the Cambodian judiciary. He said the killings last month of a Judge of Phnom Penh's Municipal Court and of an Appeals Court clerk were odious crimes that could undermine efforts to build a strong and independent judiciary in Cambodia, and he called on Cambodia to investigate the murders and prosecute those who are responsible.

WHO ADDS HEBEI PROVINCE TO SARS-RELATED ADVISORY LIST: The World Health Organization has extended its travel advisory concerning the outbreaks of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) to Hebei province of China, and recommends that people planning to travel to Hebei province consider postponing all but essential travel. Current travel advisories are now in effect for several areas of China, namely Beijing, Hebei, Hong Kong, Guangdong, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Taipei and Tianjin.

SARS DOMINATES WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY: The World Health Assembly was opened by Health Minister Dr. José Francisco López Beltrán from El Salvador, president of last year's Assembly. At this years Assembly dominated by SARS, he cited the importance of international collaboration to combat disease. "This is one world and no one can hide a disease outbreak for long," Lopez Beltrán said. "The many victims of SARS include health workers, particularly doctors and nurses. In such moments the importance of WHO becomes clear."

UNEP CONCERNS ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL COST OF ASIA GROWTH: The United Nations Environment Programme says that the new prosperity in Asia and the Pacific may come at a high environmental price. A paper to be presented at the Asia Pacific Expert Meeting on Promoting Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns, being held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia this week, says the number of middle to high-income consumers in the region those earning more than $7,000 a year - is more than that of Western Europe and North America combined. The environment of the region would not be able to sustain the kind of over-consumption seen in Europe and North America. For example, the report says that if car ownership in China, India and Indonesia reached the global average it would add 200 million vehicles to the global fleet, twice the number of cars in the United States today.

UN BUDGET: Nepal today became the 82nd Member State to pay its 2003 regular budget contribution in full, with a payment of more than $54,000.

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:

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