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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-08-20
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHIGHLIGHTS
OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FRED ECKHARD
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Wednesday, August 20, 2003
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL ON IRAQ
Secretary-General Kofi Annan left Stockholm, Sweden, earlier today to return to New York, where, at about 5:30 this afternoon, he is expected to brief the Security Council in closed consultations on Iraq. After the consultations end, the Security Council will hold a formal meeting to adopt a Presidential Statement on Iraq.
Speaking to reporters just before he left Stockholm, the Secretary-General said that despite the Tuesday bombing of the UN headquarters in Iraq, which killed at least 16 people, including Special Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello, We will persevere we will not be intimidated.
He said the United Nations was reassessing its security arrangements in Iraq, noting that the UN had been in Iraq for 12 years without being attacked. He added that the United Nations had hoped that the coalition forces would have secured the environment so that UN staff could carry out economic reconstruction and institution building. That has not happened, he said.
The Secretary-General said of the attackers that they are not doing the people of Iraq any service and added, Some mistakes may have been made, some wrong assumptions may have been made, but that does not excuse nor justify the kind of senseless violence that we are seeing in Iraq today.
UN staff around the world have been sending their condolences and paying their respects to their fallen colleagues.
The UN flag has been at half-mast at the Headquarters in New York since Tuesday afternoon, while the UN Office in Nairobi held an event to show solidarity with their colleagues in Baghdad, which some 600 staff attended. More events are being planned in the days ahead, including a ceremony on Friday by the UN Mission in Timor-Leste, which Vieira de Mello helped guide to independence last year.
Asked about whether the Secretary-General would suspend the mission to Iraq, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General would need Security Council approval for any suspension, and would always consult the Council before pulling out staff.
Asked whether UN staff was being withdrawn to Jordan, he said they were not. He noted concerns about the psychological welfare of some staff who witnessed the bombing, and added that some staff was being encouraged to take regular leaves, while stress counsellors were also being sent to Iraq.
The Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General had taken an enormous number of phone calls over the past 24 hours, receiving condolences from many world leaders.
Asked whether the Security Council might adopt any further resolutions on strengthening the UN role in Iraq, he noted that the Secretary-General last week said that he did not see signs of such a resolution coming quickly, if at all. The Spokesman noted Vieira de Mellos efforts to achieve goals in Iraq within the very difficult and vague mandate provided by the Council.
Vieira de Mello, he added, had met with a variety of political and social forces in Iraq to pave the way for a gradual internationalisation of the presence in Iraq as it takes a path back to sovereignty.
SIXTEEN BODIES RETRIEVED SO FAR FROM RUBBLE IN BAGHDAD
According to the UN Security Coordinators Office, the latest update from Baghdad shows that 16 bodies had been recovered from the rubble. So far, only seven bodies have been identified.
As of now, 20 wounded UN staff members have arrived in Amman, Jordan.
Asked whether many staff are unaccounted for, the Spokesman said that a number of people are missing, and UN staff have been visiting nearby medical facilities, including eight military clinics and six local hospitals, to try to locate staff and determine the status of all UN staff who were in Baghdad. He said the assumption remains that there are still people buried in the rubble.
Asked about responsibility for security at the UN compound, he said that outside the perimeter, it was a matter for the coalition forces, as the occupying power in Iraq, while inside the compound, the United Nations would provide some degree of security.
Asked about reports that the UN may have been considered a soft target in Iraq, he said that to his knowledge, such information had not been relayed to the United Nations.
In response to other questions concerning whether the United Nations could have received more security assistance from the United States, the Spokesman said that the United Nations had taken the decision to make its officers more accessible to the Iraqi people, while trying to uphold security standards. He noted that the UN compound was in the process of having a 12-foot-tall concrete barrier constructed around it before the blast had occurred.
The United Nations, he added, hadnt instituted tougher security measures in Baghdad since it was not deemed to be necessary. That would have to be reassessed. Other UN offices around the world may also reassess their security situation.
The Spokesman added that he didnt imply any criticism of the security provided to the United Nations, while noting the security problem that was apparent throughout Iraq. But he added that even countries with effective police forces would be vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
Asked about UN work in Baghdad, he said there has been a de facto suspension of operations in Baghdad, while the United Nations explores alternative ways to house its headquarters there so that it can keep working. He noted that only two staff decided to take up an offer to be repatriated voluntarily.
ANNAN CONDEMNS TUESDAY SUICIDE BOMBING IN JERUSALEM
On Tuesday afternoon, in a statement, the Secretary-General condemned in the strongest possible terms the suicide bombing that day by a Palestinian militant group in Jerusalem, which killed 20 Israelis and injured dozens more. The statement noted that Tuesday was a tragic day for the UN family as well, and we share the grief felt for all victims.
The Secretary-General has made clear repeatedly that terrorist attacks are totally reprehensible, and he urged Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to take decisive action to arrest the instigators of this attack and prevent such attacks from happening again.
The Secretary-General also called on the Government of Israel to act with restraint in the face of this provocation, and not contribute to a renewed cycle of violence and revenge. He reaffirmed his belief that security for both Israelis and Palestinians can best be achieved by the political process of conflict resolution called for in the Road Map.
Following the Security Council consultations on Iraq on Tuesday, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Danilo Türk briefed the Council in an open meeting on the Middle East, and told them that the Palestinian Authority must intensify its efforts to achieve full security control in its areas, while Israel should take additional steps to improve the lives of ordinary Palestinians, including by reconsidering the construction and route of the separation barrier.
SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES LIBYA, COTE DIVOIRE, SOMALIA
Libya was third item on the agenda of Security Council consultations this morning, during which members discussed a draft resolution recommending the lifting of sanctions against that country.
Council members began consultations with a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hédi Annabi on Cote dIvoire.
Then, Ambassador Stefan Tafrov of Bulgaria in his capacity as chairman of the Security Council Sanctions Committee on Somalia, briefed on the oral mid-term report of the Panel of Experts on Somalia to investigate violations of the arms embargo in Somalia. The Council President said afterward that Council members welcomed Tafrov's decision to lead a mission to the region this October, to demonstrate the Council's determination to give full effect to the arms embargo.
UN ENVOY MEETS WITH LIBERIAN PRESIDENT IN MONROVIA
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Liberia Jacques Klein is in Monrovia, where he met with President Moses Blah, a day after visiting the water and electricity generating plants on the outskirts of the capital, with an aim to quickly restarting the vital services to the city.
Meanwhile, humanitarian workers are working hard to bring assistance to those in need.
UN ENVOY CONSULTS WITH DONORS ON AID TO DR CONGO
On Tuesday, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, William Swing, consulted with main donor countries and UN agencies on international assistance to the DRC electoral process.
The meeting was organized to ascertain the areas of interest of key potential international donors in electoral assistance; to take stock on the work done in this area by the UN Mission and the international community and to agree on how best to organize international efforts to support the Transitional Government and the Independent Electoral Commission.
DRAWING OF TENNIS SEEDS FOR US OPEN TAKES PLACE AT UN
At noon today, a ceremony took place in the Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium for the drawing of seeds for this years US Open Tennis Championship, following a proposal by tennis star and UN Messenger of Peace Vijay Amritraj that the drawing take place at the United Nations.
Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Shashi Tharoor delivered a message on the Secretary-Generals behalf at the event, saying that it comes at a time of great sadness at the United Nations. The statement says that, like the United Nations, tennis is universal.
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