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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-05-28

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 28, 2003

SECURITY COUNCIL CONSIDERS FORCE DEPLOYMENT TO BUNIA, DR CONGO

During closed consultations this morning, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hédi Annabi updated the Security Council on the latest situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Secretary-General Kofi Annan attended the consultations.

[In a press statement, Council President, Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan, said a draft resolution was circulated on the authorization of a multi-national force to be deployed in Bunia in eastern DRC. He also said there was unanimous support in the Council for the Secretary-Generals proposal to deploy such a force.]

The situation on the ground in Bunia remains tense following the fighting on May 27. Fighting between the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) and the Ituri Patriotic Resistance Front (FRPI) was reported in the general area of Kindia, a southern part of Ituri, with casualties on both sides. Wide-scale looting is also continuing in some localities.

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno concluded meetings in the Rwandan, Ugandan and South African capitals. He returned to Kinshasa, the DRC capital, today.

The Security Council has also scheduled a meeting with troop contributing countries to the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) this afternoon, starting at 3:00.

Then at 3:45 p.m., the Council will discuss in consultations the Secretary-Generals report on Western Sahara.

GARBAGE CLEAN-UP, VACCINATIONS TO RESUME IN BASRA

From Basra, in southern Iraq, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that garbage clean-up will resume this coming Monday. Street garbage had been accumulating on the streets of the city for more than two months.

The operation will start following the signing of an agreement today by UN agencies, Coalition Forces, the U.S. Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance and municipal authorities.

Also from Basra, the UN Childrens Fund says it will receive the first shipment of diphtheria, polio, measles and tuberculosis vaccines. Babies born in Iraq since the war are without any immunity from those infant diseases, owing to a lack of vaccines. The supplies will be handed to the Ministry of Health for distribution to primary health care centers.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) brought together in Geneva some 50 experts to examine the social and environmental fabric of Iraq's Mesopotamian Marshlands. The experts concluded that it has been so extensively damaged that interested Governments and organizations will need to collaborate if they are to help Iraqis ensure a successful revival.

The Office of the Iraq Programme says the total value of priority items from the oil-for-food programs humanitarian pipeline that can be shipped to Iraq for emergency needs has reached $1.1 billion. The UN agencies and programs actively involved in the review of the oil-for-food pipeline are currently looking at additional contracts worth some $330 million. The volume of these items destined for Iraq is expected to accelerate with a six-month extension of the program, adopted under Security Council Resolution 1483 on May 22.

ANNAN NAMES JAPANESE DIPLOMAT AS NEW UN DISARMAMENT HEAD

The Secretary-General announced today the appointment of Nobuyasu Abe of Japan as the new Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, succeeding Jayantha Dhanapala, effective July 1. Abe has been serving as Ambassador of Japan to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since November 2001.

In appointing Abe, the Secretary-General commends him as an accomplished diplomat with a wide experience in the field of arms control and disarmament.

The Secretary-General acknowledges the fine job Jayantha Dhanapala has done in re-establishing the Department of Disarmament Affairs, enlarging its scope and strengthening the role for the United Nations in this strategic area, all the while displaying the highest standard of efficiency, competence and integrity.

UN LEGAL COUNSEL READY TO MOVE AHEAD ON CAMBODIA TRIALS

The Spokesman noted comments from Cambodian officials in the media in recent days, suggesting that the United Nations has been slow to proceed with the work needed to set up extraordinary chambers to try suspects for crimes committed during the period of Democratic Kampuchea.

UN Legal Counsel Hans Corell has been prepared to go to Phnom Penh to meet his Cambodian counterpart, Sok An, and had tried to schedule a visit on May 17 and 18. However, during that period, the Secretary-General had wanted Corell to be available in New York while the Security Council took up the question of Iraq.

Corell wrote to Sok An on May 16, explaining that an agreement on Khmer Rouge trials could be signed in New York but that he could not leave Headquarters as planned.

Sok An, in a letter dated 22 May, said that he fully understands the reason for the postponement of Corell's visit and added that the Government of Cambodia would wait for him to arrive in Cambodia in June.

With the Iraq matter now resolved, Corell is once more ready to travel to Cambodia, and the United Nations hopes to be able to announce the dates for his visit to Phnom Penh shortly. He is expected to travel towards the end of next week.

UN PEACEKEEPERS DAY TO BE OBSERVED ON THURSDAY

The first International Day of the UN Peacekeepers will be observed on Thursday. The day, established by the General Assembly, is intended to pay tribute to all those who served in peacekeeping missions.

In his message, the Secretary-General says that today, there are nearly 37,000 UN peacekeepers deployed in 14 missions on three continents, coming from 89 countries. He adds, No figures, however, can do justice to the ultimate sacrifice that more than eighteen hundred peacekeepers have made over this half-century.

He emphasizes that the mission of UN peacekeeping will continue: Peacekeeping by itself cannot end war, he says. But it can help prevent a recurrence of fighting. Above all, it gives time and space for conflict resolution. It gives peace a chance.

To mark the day at UN Headquarters, a special award ceremony will be held Thursday afternoon at 3:30 in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library auditorium, where Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hédi Annabi will pay tribute to the 66 military and civilian peacekeepers who died while in the service of peace in 2002. The day will also be observed at other main UN centers around the world.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION GIVEN NEW POWERS TO DEAL WITH CRISES

The World Health Assembly, the World Health Organization's (WHO) annual meeting in Geneva, closed its 56th session today. Two resolutions were passed, granting the WHO broad powers to deal with international health crises.

The first resolution concerns the revision of the International Health Regulations, which govern public health. The resolution confirms and underlines the WHOs authority to verify disease outbreaks from all available official and unofficial sources, and, when necessary, to determine the severity of an outbreak through on-the-spot investigations to ensure it is appropriately controlled.

The second resolution focuses more specifically on SARS, and calls for the full support of all countries to control SARS and other emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

UNAIDS CHIEF WELCOMES NEW AIDS LAW: The Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Peter Piot, was in Washington Tuesday, where he attended the signing ceremony of an AIDS law by U.S. President George W. Bush. Piot said that, with the signing of the bill, the world moved closer to supporting a response that begins to match the magnitude of the challenge of HIV/AIDS.

WFP APPEALS FOR ASSISTANCE FOR ETHIOPIA: The World Food Programme (WFP) today warned that despite an early warning and a rapid response by the international community, 12.5 million Ethiopians continue to face starvation. WFP is appealing to donors to provide $90 million in assistance to cover the organization's 2003 emergency operation.

ANNAN MARKS AFRICA DAY: The Secretary-General marked the 40th anniversary of the Organization of African Unity, which is celebrated as "Africa Day," by drawing attention to the newly established African Union as a new phase in Africas efforts to empower itself. At the same time, he warned, this anniversary also takes place as the world is assailed by the horrifying images of killings in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Liberia, and elsewhere. At such times, he says, it is fortunate that African countries have a long tradition of working together.

ANNAN MESSAGE TO ISLAMIC CONFERENCE: The Secretary-General today issued a message to the 30th session of the Islamic Conference in Tehran, Iran, saying the United Nations would do its utmost to keep the interests of the Iraqi people at the forefront of international efforts in Iraq, and also noting the importance of implementing the road map for peace in the Middle East.

BUDGET: Mongolia today became the 85th Member State to pay its 2003 regular budget contribution in full, with a payment of more than $13,000.

  • Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator Carolyn McAskie was the guest at the noon briefing, and she discussed the humanitarian situation in the DRC.

    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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