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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-05-27

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






Tuesday, May 27, 2003


[At a

news conference Tuesday afternoon, Secretary-General Kofi Annan introduced Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as his Special Representative for Iraq for a period of four months. In his opening remarks, the Secretary-General said:

"Last week the Security Council came together in Resolution 1483 to chart the way forward for post-conflict Iraq. The Council has called on the United Nations to assist the Iraqi people, in coordination with The Authority, in a wide range of areas, including humanitarian relief, reconstruction, infrastructure rehabilitation, legal and judicial reforms, human rights and return of refugees, and also to assist with civilian police. These efforts are going to demand a lot from us and from the international community.

I have asked Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello to serve as my Special Representative. He will lead the UN effort in Iraq for the next four months.

You saw him at work in Kosovo and in East Timor, running a complex mission there. I dont think he needs an introduction. He has an exceptional and unique experience in running these operations and is also known as a good team builder and a consensus-builder. I think he is someone who will hit the ground running.

Obviously, I have to admit it was a rather difficult decision for me to name a sitting High Commissioner as my Representative in Iraq, even on a temporary basis, particularly as human rights has been on top of my own agenda and it is absolutely important to this organization.

It was not an easy decision but it also reflects the important challenge that we need to take on.]

Noone has more experience in this area than Sergio Vieira de Mello, and I think for us to really get organized and become operational and effective immediately I needed someone who can hit the ground running and help us set up the operation at its early stages, so Sergio will be there for four months and will then return to his assignment in Geneva. In the meantime Bertie Ramcharan will serve as High Commissioner, and I hope Sergio will have the support of all the Member States and also I am confident he will work well with the coalition authority in Baghdad and with all the other groups in Iraq."

Asked why the United Nations was not able to stop the war in Iraq, the Secretary General answered that the Security Council had debated the issue for a long time and that the divisions between members were real and the new Council resolution is not going to change history. However, he went to say, the new resolution does give the United Nations a solid and legal basis for its operations Iraq. Council members, he added, are focusing on what they can do to help Iraq and the Iraqi people. And that should be our focus and our emphasis, the Secretary-General said.]


[Asked when he would get to Baghdad and what his priorities would be, Sergio Vieira de Mello said he expected to be in Baghdad next Monday along with a small team. He added he has three priorities: first, establish contact with the Iraqi people; second, establish good contact with the Coalition authorities; third, visit the country, as Iraq is not just Baghdad.

When asked what the No. 1 problem currently is, de Mello said it was the lack of law and order. Security has not been restored, he said. Without security, he added, it is impossible to build democratic institutions, a real cultural of human rights and a political process enabling the Iraqi to rule themselves].

The Secretary-General had written to the Security Council on Friday to inform them of his intention to appoint Sergio Vieira de Mello as his Special Representative for Iraq. In a letter sent to the Secretary-General today, the President the Council said the Council took note of his decision. In a separate letter sent on Friday to the President of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General announced that he has designated Bertie Ramcharan, the current Deputy High Commissioner, as Officer-in-Charge of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The head of the UN Information Centre in London, Ahmed Fawzi will be going to Baghdad as de Mellos spokesman.

In Baghdad, the UNs Humanitarian Coordinator, Ramiro Lopes da Silva, organized the first meeting of the national working group on protection, which involved the United Nations, including two Human Rights advisors, as well as various Non-Governmental Organizations, including Save the Children and Human Rights Watch.

Renowned Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti performs his annual "Pavarotti and Friends" concert tonight in Modena, Italy, to raise money to assist the return and reintegration of Iraqi refugees, says the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. He is focusing specifically on the most vulnerable 20,000 of the more than 200,000 Iraqi refugees in Iran.


[Tuesday afternoon, the Secretary-General, in a statement issued through his Spokesman, welcomes the decision taken by the Israeli government to accept the Road Map.

He expects the parties to embark swiftly on implementing the Road Map by taking parallel and reciprocal steps in the security, humanitarian, economic and political fields.

The Secretary-General reiterates his firmly held belief that only such steps can put an end to terror and violence, provide security and peace, and fulfill the vision of two states living side by side: a secure and prosperous Israel and a viable, democratic and sovereign Palestine.

The Secretary-General underscores the commitment of the United Nations along with the other Quartet partners to helping the Israelis and Palestinians to proceed along the road of peace and reconciliation as operationalized through the Road Map.]

Earlier in the day, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Terje Roed Larsen, who has been in Beirut for the last two days and had met with Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, said the roadmap is a more radical and far-reaching document than any previous peace plan in the Middle East. Asked if he expected any changes in the Road Map, Larsen said no. "Nobody has any intention of re-opening the roadmap, re-writing it or re-negotiating it, Larsen added."


In a statement issued on Monday through his Spokesman, the Secretary-General said it was with deep regret that he learnt of the tragic death of 62 Spanish troops returning from service with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and 12 Ukrainian crewmembers, in a plane crash in northwest Turkey. The troops were returning from having served with ISAF in the selfless contribution to the Afghan peace process.

The Secretary-General expresses his heartfelt condolences to the Governments of Spain and Ukraine and the bereaved families."


In Bunia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, renewed fighting erupted yesterday afternoon between the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) and the Ituri Patriotic Resistance Front, with at least five wounded, and two dead. Military observers from the UN Mission continue to patrol in Bunia town.

The UPC released a statement on the radio this morning, asking all internally displaced persons currently seeking shelter with the UN Mission to return to their homes. If they did not, the UPC has threatened to forcibly remove them from the UN premises. The United Nations and its humanitarian partners have strongly condemned the statement, and see any such attempt as a contravention of international law and humanitarian norms.

The hospital in Bunia was attacked on Saturday night. A number of refrigerators storing vaccines and medicines were removed. Only two of the refrigerators have been returned so far, seriously hampering the vaccination efforts of the humanitarian agencies.

The Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, after a visit to Bunia on Sunday, met with President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda in Kampala yesterday. Museveni pledged to extend Ugandas cooperation to the UN Mission in bringing an end to fighting in Bunia.

The UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Caroline McAskie, was also in Bunia on Sunday to review the humanitarian situation.


The Secretary-Generals latest report to the Security Council on the UN Mission in Western Sahara is available today.

In it, he proposes a new option, which he recommends that the Council approve. The peace plan developed by his Personal Envoy James Baker is attached to the report as an annex as are the responses of the parties and neighboring countries.

The plan combines elements of the draft framework agreement and agreed elements of the settlement plan. The Secretary-General says that "It is fair and balanced and, following a transitional period of self-government, offers the bona fide residents of Western Sahara an opportunity to determine their future for themselves."

The Secretary-General also says, "After more than 11 years and an amount of assessed contributions close to $500 million, it should be acknowledged that the Security Council is not going to solve the problem of Western Sahara without asking that one or both of the parties do something they are not otherwise prepared to do."

In order to give the Security Council sufficient time to reflect on its decision, the Secretary-General proposes that the mandate of the mission known as MINURSO be extended for two months, until 31 July 2003.

The report is to be discussed by Council members tomorrow afternoon.


Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast updated the Security Council on the situation in Burundi during closed consultations this morning.

The most noticeable change since the last briefing on April 16 was that on April 30, President Pierre Buyoya handed over power to Domitien Ndayizeye, the new President, who will lead the second phase of the transition.

In a press statement read by Council President, Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan, members said they welcome the positive developments which have taken place in Burundi and further encourage the political actors and armed groups in Burundi to opt for dialogue and to eschew violence.


The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees says refugees continued arriving in the south-west of Côte d'Ivoire over the weekend after fleeing Liberia. UNHCR says refugees are continuing to cross in significant numbers at 13 border crossings. The total number of new arrivals is now well over 15,000.

The World Food Programme has appealed for $16 million to deliver food assistance in Cote d'Ivoire. WFP is appealing to the international community to fund an emergency operation to assist over 500,000 people for a period of eight months. These include refugees from Liberia, people internally displaced by the fighting in the country, as well as families hosting them.


SARS UPDATE: The World Health Organization yesterday added Toronto, Canada, to the list of areas with recent local transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, following the report of 26 suspect and eight probable cases linked to four Toronto hospitals. WHO is not recommending any restrictions on travel to Toronto.The latest statistics on SARS indicate a total of 8202 probable cases, with 725 deaths, reported from 28 countries.

MUSICIAN BOB GELDOLF IN ETHIOPIA: Musician and activist Bob Geldorf is in Ethiopia on a visit facilitated by the UNICEF office in Addis Ababa. The five-day visit will take Geldorf to UNICEF relief projects for children to witness firsthand the current humanitarian crisis that is threatening some 14 million people. Gledorf first visited Ethiopia 20 years ago and launched a worldwide campaign to help the country then struck by famine.

APPEAL FOR ALGERIA EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS: The United Nations Children's Fund has launched an emergency flash appeal for $240,000 to assist the victims of the devastating earthquake in Algeria last week. A UNICEF consignment has arrived in Algeria containing emergency health kits to cover the basic health needs of 40,000 people for three months. The flash appeal will cover additional supplies including family and infant hygiene kits, oral rehydration salts, first aid kits, water purification tablets and water storage equipment and recreation kits and sports items for children.

UN BUDGET: Romania today became the 84th Member State to pay its 2003 regular budget in full with a payment of more than $780,000.

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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