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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-05-23

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 23, 2003

(There will be no noon briefing on Monday, May 26, a holiday at UN headquarters.)

IRAQ: ANNAN IS CLOSE TO DECISION ON UN SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE

Asked when a Special Representative for Iraq would be named, the Spokesman said that Secretary-General Kofi Annan was close to a decision, and he would not rule out that the Secretary-General could write a letter to the Security Council later today informing them of his decision.

The next step would be for the Secretary-General to hear back from the Security Council, after which a formal announcement would be made, likely after the upcoming holiday weekend.

IRANIAN REFUGEES RETURN HOME FROM IRAQ;

HUMANITARIAN AIR SERVICE IN FULL SWING

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says that a group of 180 Iranian refugees returned home Thursday in the first repatriation from Iraq in nearly a year. This first group of returnees were refugees who had fled their settlements in eastern Iraq in early April because of insecurity and tensions with the local population.

Hundreds of other refugees refused to cross back into Iran when border authorities said that their livestock would not be allowed into the country, a standard practice stemming from veterinary health concerns. Iranian authorities also refused other refugees the permission to cross with their trucks and tractors. UNHCR is trying to work out these problems with the authorities in Tehran.

With the arrival of 60 UN staff on a Boeing 737 passenger jet in Erbil in northern Iraq this week, a humanitarian air service for the Iraq crisis run by the World Food Programme has entered into full swing, WFP officials said today.

The Boeing 737 -- making the first of what will be a thrice-weekly run between Erbil, Amman, Basra and Kuwait -- is the largest in a fleet of five passenger and cargo planes dedicated to the needs of aid workers deployed in Iraq and surrounding countries. The air service is scheduled to run for six months at a cost of $23 million.

UNICEF today thanked the Japanese Government for its generous gift of $10.2 million for Iraq, to be used to rebuild and supply 70 schools devastated by the war.

The UN Mine Action Service advises all media organizations that playing or tampering with ammunition and any type of unexploded ordnance is dangerous, not only to those who do it, but to others in the vicinity. Filming children in Iraq playing or tampering with these items must therefore be strongly discouraged. The message to everybody must be, Dont touch!

UNITED NATIONS INFORMED OF UGANDAN COMPLAINTS ON ITURI FIGHTING

The situation in the northeastern part of the Democratic of Republic of the Congo (DRC) remains critical. Additional humanitarian personnel have arrived in Bunia. Assistance to internally displaced persons remains restricted to Bunia and the airport, due to the lack of access to other areas in Ituri.

The Ugandan military commander, Brigadier Kayihura, has written to the UN Mission and complained about continued fighting in Ituri and declared that Uganda would re-enter the DRC if elements threatening Ugandan security remain in control close to the Ugandan border.

The French reconnaissance team that visited Bunia is now in Kinshasa for de-briefings with the United Nations.

The United Nations is providing full information on the situation to Member States interested in participating in the multinational force recommended for Bunia by the Secretary-General last week.

The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, arrived in the DRC on Thursday, and has met with President Joseph Kabila. He will also be traveling to Bunia to assess the situation there.

SIERRA LEONE SPECIAL COURT ACCUSES LIBERIA OF NON-COMPLIANCE

The Chief of Investigations of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Alan White, on Thursday accused the Liberian authorities of failing to comply with an official request for the transfer of the alleged body of an indicted war criminal, Sam Bockarie, to the Court. We have given them more than enough time to meet our demands, White said, adding, This is completely unacceptable.

The Courts Deputy Prosecutor, Desmond de Silva, expressed anger over Liberias continuing failure to cooperate, saying, The refusal of the Liberian government to hand over the body amounts to a flagrant disregard of the United Nations.

Liberian authorities claim that Bockarie was killed on May 6 during an alleged arrest attempt by government forces, but, for the past two weeks, they have refused to transfer the remains to the Court for an independent forensic examination in order to provide positive identification.

MORE THAN 15,000 LIBERIAN REFUGEES ASSISTED IN COTE DIVOIRE

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reports it is distributing relief supplies to some of an estimated 15,000 new Liberian refugees who have arrived this week in southwestern Côte d'Ivoire following fighting across the border in southern Liberia.

In an attempt to ease tensions between the local community and the refugees, supplies are also being distributed to needy local people. The 15,000 new arrivals fled the rebel takeover of Harper, in southern Liberia, and arrived in Tabou after crossing the Cavaly River that separates the two countries.

The flow of refugees has dwindled after the initial influx because there is no longer a way to cross the river from Liberia.

UNHCR SAYS INDIGENOUS PEOPLES HURT BY CONFLICT IN COLOMBIA

UNHCR says it is extremely concerned about the impact that the internal conflict in Colombia is having on the indigenous peoples of that country.

Last week, hundreds of Guahibo-Sikuani indigenous people were forced to flee their homes as a result of heavy fighting between left-wing guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries in the municipality of Tame, in the north-eastern province of Arauca, close to the Colombian border with Venezuela. According to reports by municipal authorities, members of irregular armed groups have raped several indigenous women and girls.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals views on calls for Colombias FARC rebels to declare a cease-fire, the Spokesman said the Secretary-General supports any effort at peaceful reconciliation in Colombia, and reiterates his support for the work by his Special Representative, James LeMoyne.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

UN CORRESPONDENTS ASSOCIATION BRIEFINGS: Asked about the denial of permission by the United Nations today of a press briefing scheduled by the UN Correspondents Association (UNCA), the Spokesman said that it occurred because the General Assembly has a formal position on a one-China policy, and the invited quest from Taiwan had presented himself as the ambassador of a sovereign state. That triggered a protest from China, and the Secretary-General responded to that protest. The Secretary-General, he added, supports the long-standing UN practice of not interfering with UNCAs use of its facilities, but the UN complex belongs to its Member States.

SECURITY COUNCIL: There are no meetings or consultations of the Security Council scheduled for today. The next scheduled consultations are on Tuesday on Burundi following the long weekend. The consultations on Western Sahara have been moved to Wednesday next week.

SARS TRAVEL ADVISORIES LIFTED IN PARTS OF CHINA: The World Health Organization (WHO) today removed its travel recommendation that people should postpone all but essential travel to Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Guangdong province, China. The situation in both regions has improved significantly as the pattern of outbreak shows a sustained decline. Due to the efforts of the local and national health authorities, with support from WHO and partners, the outbreaks in Guangdong and in Hong Kong are being contained, said Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland. The latest statistics indicate a total of 8,046 probable SARS cases worldwide, including 682 deaths.

UNDP CANCER PROJECT IN PALESTINE: A pioneering cancer care facility has opened at Beit Jala Government Hospital in the West Bank, in a 2.2 million dollar project implemented by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), supported by the Government of Italy. The new cancer center provides screening, diagnosis and treatment of tumors and related blood disorders. Timothy Rothermel, head of the UNDPs Programme of Assistance for the Palestinian People, said, This center marks a bright spot in the path of peace.

ANNIVERSARY OF YUGOSLAVIA TRIBUNAL: The Statute that established the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia will be 10 years old on Sunday, and Tribunal President Theodore Meron says the Tribunal can be justly proud of its important achievements in recording the crimes that scarred the Balkans in the 1990s. But he also recognizes the hard work that lies ahead, including trials for dozens of the defendants and the need to bring high-ranking indictees, like Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, to justice.

UNICEF CONCERNS ON ACEH: The UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) warns that a humanitarian crisis is exploding in Aceh, where 23,000 children have been displaced and nearly 300 schools destroyed because of renewed fighting. UNICEF plans to fly 20 tons of emergency health kits to Aceh next Tuesday.

DAY OF UN PEACEKEEPING: Next Thursday, the first International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers will be observed. The Day is intended to pay tribute to all those who served in peacekeeping missions since the establishment of the first one, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), on May 29, 1948.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS Monday, May 26

Today is a U.S. holiday, and the UN Headquarters will be closed.

In Geneva, the UN Forum on Forests will begin a two-week session.

Tuesday, May 27

The Security Council has scheduled consultations on Burundi.

The Deputy Secretary-General will address the annual UN Senior Management Seminar.

Wednesday, May 28

The Security Council has scheduled consultations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Western Sahara.

Thursday, May 29

Today is the first Day of International Peacekeepers, and the Secretary-General will issue a message on UN peacekeeping to mark the occasion. He will also issue a statement to the Third Global Forum on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity, which begins today in Seoul, South Korea.

The Security Council has scheduled consultations on the oil-for-food program for Iraq.

Friday, May 30

The Security Council intends to hold an open meeting to wrap up the Security Council Presidency of Pakistan for the month of May.

Today is UN Staff Day.

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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