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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-05-29

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 HUA JIANG

DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, May 29, 2003

ANNAN CALLS ON G-8 LEADERS TO GIVE PRIORITY TO POVERTY

The Group of Eight summit will take place in Evian, France, next week, and Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a personal letter this week, called on the leaders of the Group of Eight nations to give due priority to the issues of poverty and development, which are of overriding importance for the great majority of the worlds people.

He said in the letter that he hopes the gathering in Evian would discuss not whether we address these challenges, but how we resolve them, and he drew attention to the $100 billion that will be required yearly, at a minimum, to achieve the Millennium Development Goals set three years ago.

The Secretary-General will be traveling to Evian over the weekend, and, in his letter, he says that he looks forward to the informal summit involving the leaders of a number of developing countries on June 1, which the G-8 leaders have invited him to join.

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE MEMORIAL FUND SET UP

In 2001, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Secretary-General and the United Nations. The amount of the Prize totaled $1 million and was awarded in equal shares to the Secretary-General and the United Nations as such.

The Secretary-General, according to a statement issued through his Spokesman today, has proposed to use the full amount of the prize money as a start-up for the establishment of a memorial fund, which would provide financial assistance for the education of children of United Nations civilian personnel who have lost their lives in the service of peace. The Fund would be a way of ensuring both a living memorial to staff who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and a practical way of helping families left behind.

Today, the General Assembly agreed to the Secretary-General's proposal, clearing the way for the Fund to benefit from the full amount of the 2001 Nobel Prize.

Today is the first observance of the annual International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, and the Spokesman announced that funds of the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces, will be used for a memorial dedicated to those who gave their lives for peace in the service of the United Nations in the field.

Work has now begun on the construction of the memorial, which will be located in the North Garden of the United Nations Headquarters and unveiled in September of this year. The memorial is designed by Arquitectonica, the prestigious architectural firm, whose services were provided to the United Nations pro bono. The Secretary-General has issued a message marking the day.

ANNAN URGES PARTIES IN ACEH CONFLICT TO PROTECT CIVILIANS

In a statement attributable to his Spokesman, the Secretary-General expressed his concern of the impact of the renewed hostilities on civilian populations in Aceh, Indonesia. In particular, he is disturbed by reports of extra-judicial killings and widespread burning of schools.

The Secretary-General urged all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations to protect civilians in armed conflict. He called on the Government of Indonesia to ensure the necessary security conditions to allow international aid organizations safe and unhindered access to affected populations.

The United Nations reiterates its commitment to a dialogue with the Indonesian authorities on these and other humanitarian issues related to Aceh.

ANNAN WELCOMES RIO GROUP DECLARATION ON COLOMBIA

In another statement, the Secretary-General noted the declaration of the Rio Group calling for a peaceful resolution to the conflict through open and transparent dialogue among the parties in Colombia.

He welcomed regional leaders support for his continuing good offices, which aim to achieve a negotiated solution to Colombias conflict.

UN EFFORTS UNDERWAY TO RE-START PEACE NEGOTIATIONS IN BUNIA, DRC

There is no fighting reported in Bunia in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, although the situation remains unstable. The UN Mission continues its efforts to re-start negotiations between the different militia groups that have been fighting in Bunia. No progress has been reported yet.

At the diplomatic level, in Kinshasa, Under Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guéhenno, is meeting again with President Joseph Kabila today to underline the importance of restraint by all sides in Ituri.

Despite tightened security at internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps in Bunia, continuing incidents of theft and ongoing human rights violations remain a major concern. It was also reported that a 12-year old girl was raped in front of her family in one of the camps.

In the meantime, general humanitarian activity continues. Efforts are also continuing to provide humanitarian services to IDPs in the localities surrounding Bunia.

The Uruguayan battalion of some 720 troops and acting under a peacekeeping mandate has provided humanitarian help, working closely with humanitarian actors, as it is protecting the lives of thousands of IDPs on the UN premises.

In New York, the Security Council is considering a draft resolution on the authorization of a multi-national force to be deployed in Bunia.

PUBLIC DISTRIBUTION OF FOOD AID TO RESTART IN IRAQ ON SUNDAY

The World Food Programme said today it is working with the Iraqi Ministry of Trade and the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance to finalize the reactivation of the Public Distribution System, which is slated for June 1.

Thousands of food distribution agents will be able to resume operations when the food warehouses open for business that day. Hopefully, WFP said, some of these agents will manage to start distributing food to people the same day, but the monthly distribution cycle can take a couple of weeks to end.

The system provides services to 27 million Iraqis. Since early April, WFP has brought about 400,000 tons of food to Iraq to replenish the food distribution system.

Meanwhile the UN Childrens Fund has been focusing its attention on the citys water supply. A UNICEF supported assessment of the capitals water system shows that 50 percent of the water in the system is lost due to broken or damaged pipes. To address this issue, UNICEF is working with a local contractor to repair these breaks.

The agency is also currently distributing 800,000 liters of fresh water to areas within the city that need it the most.

On a related note, the Security Councils 661 Iraq Sanctions Committee said that, with adoption of the resolution 1483, the existing procedures for filing notification of flights into Iraq with the committee were no longer valid.

On Wednesday, the UN Controller transferred $1 billion to the Development Fund for Iraq. The transfer was made from the United Nations Iraq escrow account, as requested in paragraph 17 of Security Council Resolution 1483.

On Friday in Brindisi, Italy, at the UN logistics base, the Italian NGO Inter SOS will hold a press conference to present its project for the clearing of mines and unexploded ordinance in Iraq. The project is part of the overall UN Mine Action Service-coordinated program in Iraq and will entail the airlifting of mine clearance equipment to Iraq. Unexploded mines and ordinance remain an immediate threat to civilians in Iraq, especially to children. Anna Cataldi, a UN Messenger of Peace since 1998, will attend a ceremony on behalf of the UN Mine Action Service.

SUDAN: UNICEF SAYS NEW DATA WILL HELP IN RECOVERING ABDUCTEES

The United Nations Children's Fund has said that new research released by the Rift Valley Institute is the first that shows the true extent of abductions by militia groups in Sudan in the last 20 years.

The research shows over 10,000 children and adults have been abducted and UNICEF is calling on the government and international donors to use the new data to help in finding those still missing.

UNICEF has been working with the Committee for the Eradication of the Abduction of Women and Children since its inception in 1999 to find abductees and reunite them with their families.

In the last four years, more than 700 people have been reunited with their families in the south and west of Sudan. In mid-May UNICEF and Save the Children Fund flew 62 children across the cease-fire lines to their families.

WHO CALLS FOR END OF TOBACCO IN FILM AND FASHION INDUSTRIES

The World Health Organization today called on the film and fashion industries to stop glamorizing tobacco, following last weeks unanimously adopted Tobacco Convention, which calls for a halt to tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

World No Tobacco Day celebrations, to be held on May 31, will focus on the role of the fashion and film industries, which are critical in shaping and reinforcing popular norms of beauty, success and fun.

WHO will urge both industries to stop being used as vehicles of the death and disease that tobacco brings. This year's World No Tobacco Day is the first international manifestation of the global resolve to transform the Tobacco Convention into life-saving measures in the world.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECURITY COUNCIL: There are no Security Council meetings or consultations scheduled today. On Friday, the Security Council has scheduled to hold an open meeting focusing on Africa, which will wrap up the Pakistani presidency of the Council for May. The Council is considering two draft resolutions one on the authorization of a multi-national force to be deployed in Bunia, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and another on the extension of the mandate for the UN mission in Western Sahara, which expires on Saturday.

DE-MINING IN AFGHANISTAN: The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported today that de-mining work, along a stretch of the Kabul to Kandahar road, has been suspended following a series of new attacks and threats on various de-mining teams. As soon as security is reassessed and measures are in place to guarantee security, the de-mining teams will resume their activities.

AGRICULTURE IN AFGHANISTAN: The Food and Agriculture Organization appealed for $25 million in urgent assistance for long-term agricultural development activities in Afghanistan. Without this additional funding, FAO would have to stop more than 70 percent of its activities by the end of 2003 and almost all its achievements would be jeopardized.

SPECIAL COURT FOR SIERRA LEONE: The Deputy Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Desmond de Silva, announced the indictment of Brima Bazzy Kamara, a former senior commander of both the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and the West Side Boys. Kamara was taken into custody two days ago and has been indicted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. Two other people, Moinina Fofana and Allieu Kondewa, have been provisionally detained under a court rule that allows suspects to be held for up to 30 days before being formally charged. Both individuals are affiliated with the former Civil Defence Forces.

  • The guest at the briefing was Mark Malloch Brown, the Administrator of the UN Development Programme, who discussed the upcoming G-8 Summit and the Millennium Development Goals.

    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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