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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-08-25

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






Monday, August 25, 2003


Secretary-General Kofi Annan attended a memorial service in Brazil over the weekend for Sergio Vieira de Mello, his Special Representative for Iraq, who was killed last Tuesday in a bomb attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad.

On arriving in Saturday, the Secretary-General met briefly with Brazilian President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, with whom he discussed the deteriorating security situation in Iraq. The Secretary-General also conveyed his condolences to the President for the deaths on Friday of 21 Brazilian technicians when a rocket designed to launch a communications satellite exploded during a test.

The two then proceeded to Rios City Hall for the memorial service, where, surrounded by mourners, the Secretary-General spoke first, saying that Vieira de Mellos work in Iraq should be completed. His dying wish was that the United Nations Mission there should not be pulled out. Let us respect that.

He concluded, Sergio, my friend, you have entered that pantheon of the fallen heroes that the United Nations wishes it did not have. You will shine forever among our brightest stars. May you rest in peace.

After the service, the Secretary-General met again with the Brazilian President, and they spoke about Vieira de Mello. They also discussed the upcoming General Assembly session in September, at which Lula will be the opening speaker, and also mentioned ways to revive the Monterrey consensus on fighting poverty and to accelerate the efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

On Saturday evening, the Secretary-General had a private dinner with Vieira de Mellos family.

On Sunday afternoon, before departing for New York, where he returned early this morning, the Secretary-General described Sergio Vieira de Mello as someone who was more like a brother to him.

Asked about security measures in Iraq, he said that further measures will be taken to strengthen the security of UN personnel. But he added, The option of withdrawing is not something we can consider. The people of Iraq need us; they want us to stay.

Asked about the possibility of multilateral forces being sent to Iraq, he said that is an issue under discussion and added, Im intimately involved in these discussions, but it will take some time for us to come to conclusions.

The Spokeswoman, in response to questions about the Secretary-Generals views on a new Security Council resolution on Iraq, said that he hopes the Council will have further discussions on such a resolution, but prefers that they be conducted behind closed doors. She added that discussions are going on.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals schedule, she said he was expected to return to work at UN Headquarters this afternoon.


Over the weekend, the UN humanitarian agencies operating in Iraq resumed some of their emergency humanitarian work in Baghdad for the first time since last weeks bombing.

Staff from both the UN Childrens Fund and the World Health Organization are back doing work in hospitals. The World Food Programme has resumed its work with its Public Distribution System.

The Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council late last week exchanged letters concerning the Secretary-Generals decision to appoint Ramiro Lopes da Silva as his Acting Special Representative in Baghdad.

In New York, the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations is organizing a memorial mass in memory of Sergio Vieira de Mello. The mass will be celebrated today at 6:00 p.m. at Saint Agnes Church, located at 141 East 43rd Street.

Asked whether the Secretary-General will travel to Geneva for a funeral service later this week for Vieira de Mello, the Spokeswoman said he had no plans to travel to Geneva so far.

Asked about the facilities that were used as office space for the staff in Baghdad, the Spokeswoman said that they were using other UN agencies offices, as well as tents, while the United Nations is looking at venues for an alternative headquarters site. A security assessment is continuing.


UN Development Programme Administrator Mark Malloch Brown met with UN staff relocated from Baghdad in Amman, Jordan, today. He visited seven injured staff members in an Amman hospital and met with about 120 UN staff members who have been temporarily relocated from Baghdad.

He also thanked the Jordanian Foreign Minister, Marwan Mouasher, for Jordans help in receiving injured and other relocated UN staff members. Malloch Brown will also meet with family members of those who lost their lives in last week's bombing.

Asked about numbers of UN staff in Baghdad following the relocation to Jordan, the Spokeswoman said that some 200 international UN staff were working in Baghdad over the weekend. Prior to the bombing, there had been some 300 international staff in Baghdad, and 646 in Iraq as a whole.

She explained further that the United Nations would continue to do core humanitarian work in Iraq, but non-essential staff who could perform administrative work outside the country would do so.

Asked whether there was a connection between the UN bombing and the earlier bombing of the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad, she said the investigation into last weeks attack had just begun and it would be premature to speculate.


In a statement, the Secretary-General utterly condemned the terrorist bomb attacks today in Mumbai, India, killing more than 40 innocent civilians and injuring many more. He is adamantly opposed to all acts of terrorism, from whatever quarter.

The Secretary-General conveyed his heartfelt condolences to the Government of India and the bereaved families of the victims of these despicable acts of terrorism.


The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Terje Roed Larsen, today issued a statement condemning Israels extra-judicial assassination Sunday of four Palestinians. Helicopter gun-ships fired missiles into a car in Gaza City, reportedly killing a Hamas militant and three Islamic University students.

Roed-Larsen reiterated the UNs consistent and vocal opposition to such assassinations. He said that Israel clearly has a right to live in peace and security. However, no country can resort to these extra-judicial measures.

Roed-Larsen calls on all parties to halt violent actions and immediately re-engage in a constructive process toward peace, as outlined in the Road Map.

Also, the Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights, Bertrand Ramcharan, said that the acts of violence by both the Israeli and Palestinian sides over the past week are unacceptable. He appealed to all parties to refrain from any further acts of violence and to do their utmost to control those who commit terrorist acts against civilians or engage in the disproportionate use of force.


The Security Council Presidency said this morning that the open meeting that had been scheduled for 11:00 this morning, to consider a draft resolution on the protection of UN personnel, associated personnel and humanitarian personnel in conflict zones, has been rescheduled until Tuesday. The time of the formal meeting will be determined later.

There are no Council meetings or consultations scheduled for today.

In addition to the open meeting on the draft resolution, the Council has scheduled consultations on Tuesday on Liberia and Iraq.


The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Liberia, Jacques Klein, met today in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, with the countrys President, Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, and Vice President, Solomon Berewah, in what is planned to be a series of visits to regional capitals to discuss the situation in Liberia with West African leaders. Klein also met today with the Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, David Crane.

On Tuesday, he expects to travel to Conakry, Guinea, to meet with senior officials there.

In Liberia itself, World Food Programme (WFP) food distributions in Monrovia continued over the weekend; they have now reached over 122,000 people in the capital. Over the weekend, they also succeeded in providing food to sites for internally displaced persons in Sinkor, Newport St. and Capital Bypass.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), meanwhile, distributed non-food items in Monrovia over the weekend, including 1,000 plastic sheets. It also says that 154 Sierra Leonean refugees left Liberia over the weekend to return to their home country.

On Sunday, an initial assessment of camps for internally displaced persons took place in Montserrado, 15 kilometers outside of Monrovia. Conditions are reportedly poor in terms of food and other supplies. Another assessment mission is scheduled for today, while an assessment mission also traveled to Bong County today to examine the camps for internally displaced persons there.

Asked about UN work in Liberia, the Spokeswoman said that assessment work has been fairly slow because of lack of transport and security concerns.

Asked how shifts in US troop deployment affected security on the ground, she said that security assessments were still going on, and added that it was the United States decision as to how to deploy its troops in Liberia.


Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, has begun a week-long visit to Afghanistan, where on Sunday he signed an agreement in Kabul with Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali, to help establish a new drug interdiction department and to fund 20 projects, worth $38 million, to boost drug control in the country.

Late Sunday, Costa met with President Hamid Karzai, and they agreed on the need for the international community, including major development institutions, to help Afghan farmers to grow commercial crops and develop infrastructure in the poor rural areas of the country.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has published a special report on its activities in Afghanistan for reducing maternal mortality. Among other things, UNFPA has been developing strategies together with local health authorities to improve reproductive health facilities and is supporting non-governmental organizations in building clinics and training staff to serve rural communities with no medical care.

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New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162 - press/media only

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All other inquiries to be addressed to (212) 963-4475 or by e-mail to:

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