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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-08-11

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

Monday, August 11, 2003

ANNAN WELCOMES LIBERIAN PRESIDENTS DECISION TO RESIGN

Secretary-General Kofi Annan today welcomed the decision of President Charles Taylor to resign office, and he expects that Taylor will immediately leave Liberia, as he had promised to do. The Secretary-General hopes that this development may at last mark the beginning of the end of the long nightmare of the Liberian people; and, with that in mind, he strongly urged all parties in Liberia to observe the ceasefire, and to allow humanitarian assistance to reach the population in all parts of the country.

He also urged all Member States to give whatever assistance they can to the Liberian people in restoring security and stability, notably by supporting and contributing to the multinational force authorized by the Security Council.

The Secretary-General noted the progress achieved by the Liberian parties in the negotiations in Accra, and believes that all of them should now make every effort to reach agreement quickly on a process leading to a transitional government which can bring about national reconciliation, and in due course enable the Liberian people to choose a fully representative leadership through free and fair elections.

He expressed his appreciation for the efforts made by African leaders notably Presidents Joachim Chissano of Mozambique, John Kufuor of Ghana, Thabo Mbeki of South African and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria to resolve the crisis. He particularly thanked President Obasanjo for the timely deployment of Nigerian peacekeeping troops, and the former Nigerian head of state, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, for his able facilitation of the Accra talks. He hopes that the regional leaders will remain closely engaged, and will do whatever they can to maintain stability and help Liberians reach a peaceful resolution of their differences.

Asked about the precedent set by the Secretary-Generals welcoming of the departure of a head of state, the Spokeswoman said that the initiative to depart had not come from the Secretary-General but from President Taylor, who had promised to leave the country to pave the way for the national reconciliation process.

UN ENVOY FOR LIBERIA TO LEAVE FOR THE REGION

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Liberia, Jacques Klein, is expected to leave Tuesday for the region, where he will meet with regional leaders and other concerned states, as well as UN and other organizations. Klein says the immediate challenge is to respond to the dire humanitarian consequences of the war.

If security conditions permit, a humanitarian team led by Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Carolyn McAskie is expected to go into Monrovia Tuesday. An advance humanitarian team is at the Monrovia airport today preparing for the return of the UN country team.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that a humanitarian team was able to visit a site for some 17,000 internally displaced persons, and that the camps lack clean water supplies, shelter and cooking materials. Diarrheal diseases are prevalent, and there are concerns that mosquito-borne disease could also spread quickly.

The airlift by the UN Mission in Sierra Leone from Freetown to Monrovia continues. Six tons of ammunition, one armored personnel carrier, one truck and one land rover were flown in today. No soldiers were airlifted today because the priority is to send in supplies and equipment.

ANNAN CONDEMNS SHELLING BY HEZBOLLAH INTO ISRAEL

In a statement issued Sunday, the Secretary-General strongly condemned the shelling of anti-aircraft missiles by Hezbollah into Israel that cost the life of a 16-year-old Israeli and wounded four other civilians in the town of Shlomi. This represents a serious violation of the Blue Line and of the Security Councils resolutions.

The Secretary-General extended his sincere condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims. He is deeply concerned by the current escalation in the area and calls upon all parties involved to fully respect the Blue Line. He urges all Governments that have influence on Hezbollah to deter it from any further actions which could increase the tension in the area.Meanwhile, he calls upon the Government of Israel to exercise utmost restraint.

Today, the Secretary-Generals Personal Representative for Southern Lebanon, Staffan de Mistura, met with Lebanese Foreign Minister Jean Obeid to discuss the serious situation along the Blue Line. He told reporters afterwards that the United Nations was appealing to all sides to stop a potential escalation, both in anti-aircraft fire from Lebanon and in overflights from Israel.

He noted that both activities are wrong, but added that they are not equivalent, since the anti-aircraft fire from Lebanon Sunday resulted in the first civilian victim since Israels withdrawal from Lebanon three years ago.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals contacts on the Middle East, the Spokeswoman said he had called King Abdullah of Jordan on Saturday.

UN ENVOY FOR IRAQ HOLDS WEEKEND TALKS IN EGYPT

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, returned Sunday night to Baghdad after a two-day visit to Egypt, where he met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa.

On Saturday, Vieira de Mello and Maher discussed the UN role in Iraq, the importance of ensuring close links between Iraq and its neighbors and ways in which the region can assist the Iraqi people in their quest for the full restoration of their sovereignty and the rebuilding of their country.

On Sunday, the Special Representative and the Arab League Secretary-General exchanged views on the Iraqi Governing Council.

Vieira de Mello also talked to the press while in Cairo, saying that he was explaining the role of the Governing Council and why it deserves to be given a chance by Arab nations.

He said that, whatever happens in Iraq, there is a need to organize free, fair and truly democratic elections there sometime in 2004. He noted that the United Nations already has an electoral team in Iraq, which will soon begin to help the Iraqis prepare for elections.

UN OIL-FOR-FOOD HEAD VISITS NORTHERN IRAQ

On Sunday in the northern Iraqi town of Erbil, Benon Sevan, the Executive Director of the Office of the Iraq Programme, told a group of journalists that, despite the difficulties it had faced, the oil-for-food program has been the largest humanitarian program in the history of the United Nations and added that he was proud of what it had achieved.

Asked about allegations of mismanagement and corruption, he said that, after almost 100 audit reports, both internal and external, nobody has ever been able to prove any misappropriation of funds administered by the United Nations.

Sevan is meeting with the local authorities in northern Iraq, after which he will travel to Baghdad.

UN MISSION SUSPENDS TRAVEL TO SOUTHERN AFGHANISTAN

The UN Mission in Afghanistan said that it had suspended all travel to two border districts in southern Afghanistan following a series of attacks there last week on humanitarian workers and Afghan soldiers.

The areas concerned are in Helmand and Kandahar provinces. There are also currently no missions to Uruzgan and Zabul or to northern Helmand, except to Lashkar Gah or northern Kandahar.

Last Tuesday, 10 Afghan staff of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Coordination Humanitarian Assistance were severely beaten by armed men. On Thursday, 40 suspected terrorists attacked the district commissioners office in Dishu district of Helmand, killing six Afghan soldiers and one Afghan staff member of the NGO Mercy Corps who were sleeping there.

UN CONGO MISSION RECEIVES 250 BANGLADESHI TROOPS

On Sunday, 250 soldiers from Bangladesh arrived in Bunia, in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to expand the contingent of the UN Mission there, which must replace the multinational forces by this September 1. With the arrival of the new troops, the UN Mission, whose mandate recently was extended by the Security Council, currently counts about 730 Bangladeshis in the field.

Today, Special Representative of the Secretary-General William Swing will meet Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala to discuss the situation in the Ituri Region.

Asked about whether Swing had any hidden agenda for the DRC, the Spokeswoman said that Swing had a very rich experience working in Africa, which is one reason why the Secretary-General selected him for the job. While working for the United Nations, she added, he will only have the UN agenda in mind, and nothing else.

SUDAN: SOME $8.6 MILLION NEEDED TO ASSIST FLOOD VICTIMS

Today in Khartoum, UN humanitarian agencies and their NGO partners launched an $8.6 million appeal for humanitarian assistance to Sudan. The appeal is intended to meet the needs of some 100,000 people in Sudans Kassala State and other areas of Sudan affected by severe flooding.

Excessive rainfall in the Eritrean highlands along with localised rains in Kassala State caused the River Gash to burst its banks on July 29, flooding both the eastern and western parts of Kassala city.

A detailed flood damage assessment was conducted in the area last week, which confirmed 13 deaths and 56 injuries because of the flooding, as well as the total destruction of an estimated 7,515 houses and partial destruction of an additional 6,022 houses. The citys hospital and 17 health clinics have been damaged, while 86 schools have been closed down.

UNAIDS WELCOMES SOUTH AFRICAN POLICY ON AIDS DRUGS

In a statement issued today, Peter Piot, the Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) welcomed the recent decision of the South African Government to provide antiretroviral treatment on a national scale to people living with HIV in the country. He said the new policy will bring hope for millions of people living with HIV and their families.

UNAIDS says that South Africa's response to AIDS now enters a critical new phase - one that is characterized by strong political commitment, a dynamic grass roots movement, more funding, and a scaling up of prevention and treatment programs.

The UN System stands ready to provide support to the South African Government as it develops and implements this initiative.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

NO SECURITY COUNCIL MEETINGS SCHEDULED: The Security Council has scheduled no consultations or meetings today.

BREAKTHROUGHS MADE AT CORRUPTION TALKS: Major breakthroughs were achieved during the sixth session of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Negotiation of a Convention against Corruption, held in Vienna through last Saturday, including an agreement on the recovery of assets resulting from corruption and on a broad scope of preventive measures. The Ad Hoc Committee decided to meet again on September 22, in order to settle several elements of the draft that still need to be elaborated before the Convention is submitted to the General Assembly for final approval.

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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