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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-05-21

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 21, 2003

WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTS TOBACCO CONVENTION

style="font-size:12.0pt;color:black;mso-ansi-language: The World Health Assembly today in Geneva unanimously adopted the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which aims to curb the widespread use of tobacco that kills about 5 million people each year.

style="font-size:12.0pt;color:black;mso-ansi-language: Countries that ratify the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control would be required to restrict tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion, set up new labeling and clean indoor air controls, and clamp down on tobacco smuggling.

style="font-size:12.0pt; The treaty will enter into force after it has been ratified by 40 countries.

style="font-size:12.0pt; Today, we are acting to save billions of lives and protect peoples health for generations to come, said outgoing Director General, Gro Harlem Brundtland.This is a historic moment in global public health, she continued, demonstrating the international will to tackle a threat to health head on.

style="font-size:12.0pt;color:black;mso-ansi-language: The World Health Assembly today also confirmed the appointment of the new Director-General, Dr. Jong-Wook Lee, the first national of the Republic of Korea to be chosen to head a UN agency.

ONE MILLION TONS OF RAW SEWAGE DISCHARGED DAILY IN BAGHDAD RIVERS

style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-weight: Ramiro Lopes da Silva, the UNs Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, visited a number of sites around the Iraqi capital this morning including a World Food Programme (WFP) food warehouse, a power station and sewage treatment plant.

style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-weight: The WFP warehouse and the power plant are under the protection of the coalition forces, which have put a stop to the looting of the facilities though technicians have their vehicles and equipment stolen when they go out to repair power lines.

style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-weight: The situation at the sewage plant is different. The Al Rustumia plant is one of such facilities in Baghdad and it is not protected. Lopes da Silva was told by local staff that that looters were operating on a daily basis. Damage from the fighting is compounded by persistent looting and has rendered the plant inoperable. As a result, one million tons of raw sewage are discharged to the Tigris and Diyala Rivers every day.

style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-weight: You have bad water, you have children with diarrhoea, you have malnutrition, Lopes da Silva told journalists. He added that he would bring up the issue of security for the plant with officials from the U.S. Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. So we need to address first the security of this site and then we are prepared to re-engage in rehabilitating it, da Silva added.

style="font-size:12.0pt;color:black; In northern Iraq, a team from the World Health Organization, along with local officials, delivered today two trucks of medical aid worth $43,000 to Mosul governorate. This includes medical supplies, drugs and laboratory items provided under the Oil-for-Food Program.

IRAQ: U.S. AND IAEA DISCUSSING DETAILS OF AGENCY EXPERTS' RETURN

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has received a response from the United States to the call it has made to allow IAEA experts to return to Iraq to deal with the safety and security of nuclear materials at the al-Tuwaitha nuclear research center. The IAEA and the U.S. Government are in the process of discussing modalities to send a team of Agency experts to al-Tuwaitha. The Agency hopes to reach an agreement on those modalities as soon as possible.

On Monday, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei called on the coalition authorities in Iraq to allow the Agency experts into the country, saying, I am deeply concerned by the almost daily reports of looting and destruction at nuclear sites and about the potential radiological safety and security implications of nuclear and radiological materials that may no longer be under control.

In response to a question about the IAEA concerns about the nuclear situation, the Spokesman said IAEA has been waiting for a response to a letter to the United States asking for the inspectors to go back to facilities under their safeguards because of reports of looting. He added that the United States has now responded in the affirmative and the IAEA is talking to the United States about the modalities for sending a team back in.

SECURITY COUNCIL TO TAKE ACTION ON IRAQ RESOLUTION THURSDAY

The Security Council held consultations this morning on Georgia. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Georgia, Heidi Tagliavini, introduced the Secretary-General's report (S/2003/412) and briefed the Council on the latest developments on the ground. In his report, the Secretary-General reminds the parties, in particular the Abkhaz side, that the status question cuts across every aspect of a final peaceful settlement and he says that without its satisfactory resolution, a sustainable settlement is likely to remain elusive.

The Security Council is scheduled to meet at 9:30 a.m. Thursday to take action on the draft resolution on Iraq.

Also tomorrow, the Security Council is planning to hold an open briefing on The Response to the Humanitarian Situation in Iraq featuring the World Food Programme, the World Health Organization, the UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF), the UN Development Programme as wells the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Spokesman was asked when the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) would be back in Iraq and he said this matter was being discussed in the Security Council. The Council had made a decision to return to the matter, which is not dealt with directly in the current draft resolution

There was a question on whom the Secretary-General would appoint as his Special Representative for Iraq and the Spokesman replied that the Secretary-General told reporters yesterday he will move very quickly to appoint his Special Representative once the resolution is adopted by the Security Council and that the person would be on the ground as soon as is practicable. The Spokesman said that the Secretary-General had not shared who he had in mind for the post.

BUNIA IN DR CONGO REPORTED TENSE; HUMANITARIAN SITUATION CRITICAL

The situation in Bunia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains tense. There have been reports of militias attempting to infiltrate sites where internally displaced persons are currently located. The UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) is mounting stricter surveillance to prevent infiltrations from taking place.

Based on the agreement reached in Dar-es-Salaam on 16 May, the militia leaders in Bunia met with the leaders of the Ituri interim administration to discuss the cantonment of the armed groups. Discussions are ongoing.

UN Mission representatives and humanitarian actors have been working closely with the local Red Cross chapter to collect dead bodies in Bunia.So far, 274 corpses have been picked up, and interred. The UN Mission is also deploying a human rights officer and a child protection officer to Bunia to collect information.

The humanitarian situation in Bunia remains critical.The total number of displaced persons seeking shelter at MONUC premises in Bunia town is 4,000 and at the airport is 9,000.

Humanitarian conditions outside Bunia remain a great concern.style="mso-spacerun: Security constraints and landmines pose serious impediments to humanitarian access outside of Bunia, and have made it difficult to assess the number and condition of the thousands affected throughout Ituri district.

In response to a question on how soon a military force would be in Bunia, the Spokesman said the situation is dangerously tense and appears to be escalating although it is reported to be calmer today. The underlying issues had not been resolved. He said the Secretary-General has called for an international intervention force under the enforcement provisions of the UN Charter.Governments have been making a good faith effort to work out arrangements among themselves for a force that would have the necessary strength and the political balance to be acceptable to all the parties in the conflict. The Spokesman went on to say that it is taking longer than had been hoped, but they are making progress. "We hope the last remaining issues can be resolved and this force can be deployed quickly," he said.

UN CALLS FOR PROTECTION OF SCHOOLS IN ACEH

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Indonesia appeal to all parties to the conflict in Aceh to protect educational facilities from destruction.

style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size: Responding to reports that over 170 schools have been burnt in the past two days, the UN humanitarian agencies urge all parties to ensure that educational facilities remain zones of peace, and are not targeted, damaged or destroyed. Reports suggest over 60,000 children have already been affected.

style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size: UNICEF will dispatch 300 emergency schools kits along with 50 school tents to Aceh for internally displaced children, as well as communities where schools have been destroyed. They will be set up in partnership with the provincial government in Aceh.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

UN ENVOY MEETS WITH COLOMBIA'S DEFENSE MINISTER: The Spokesman was asked about the comments made by the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Colombia, James LeMoyne, to a newspaper in that country. In the exercise of good offices, he said, an effort is made to understand those involved in a conflict so as to be able to deal with them. This must not be read as taking sides with any of the parties, he said. LeMoyne met with the Colombian Defense Minister Martha Lucía Ramírez. today to explain the role of good offices and the importance of maintaining dialogue with all the parties.

UN ASSISTS SRI LANKA AFTER FLOODS: style="font-size:12.0pt;color:black; The UN System is responding to heavy monsoon rain that has affected the south and southwest of Sri Lanka, leading to the most serious flooding and landslides in over 50 years. There are reports of over 200 dead and that 171,000 families have been affected. Today, three UN inter-agency teams went to the five affected districts to make an assessment of emergency needs, together with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Social Welfare. Through the Government counterparts, UN agencies are providing humanitarian assistance. The World Food Programme is providing 10,000 family food packets, while the UN Childrens Fund is providing mats, cooking sets, and school uniform material.WHO plans to distribute some 100,000 water purification tablets, typhoid vaccines, and emergency health kits.

HAGUE TRIBUNAL ACCEPTS GUILTY PLEA OF DRAGAN OBRENOVIC: Today in The Hague, judges ruled that a plea agreement reached between Dragan Obrenovic, a suspect on trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and the prosecutors office was satisfactory. Under the plea agreement, Obrenovic pleaded guilty to persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds as a crime against humanity, and promised complete cooperation with the prosecutors office. In return, prosecutors recommended that Obrenovic should receive a sentence of between 15 and 20 years in prison, with the remaining charges against him to be dismissed. Accordingly, the Tribunal found him guilty on the persecution count and will set a time and date for his sentencing in due course.

SARS TRAVEL ADVISORY EXTENDED: The World Health Organization today extended its travel advisory concerning the outbreaks of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, to all of Taiwan Province, China. This is an extension of the advice issued on May 8 recommending the postponement of non-essential travel to Taipei, as the disease spread beyond the city and 39 new cases were reported on the island. In other SARS news, WHO has removed the Philippines from its list of areas with recent local transmission of SARS as 20 days have passed with no further cases reported. The latest statistics indicate a total of 7,919 SARS cases, including 662 deaths, reported from 28 countries.

UN BUDGET: Guatemala has made a payment of more than $364,000 to the regular budget to become the 83rd fully paid-up Member State. Two payments were made to the peacekeeping budget. Spain made a payment of more than $5 million and the UK a payment of more than $15 million.

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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