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United Nations Daily Highlights, 04-03-31

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 MARIE OKABE

ASSOCIATE SPOKESWOMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

ANNAN DETERMINED TO WRAP UP

CYPRUS

TALKS TONIGHT

Secretary-General Kofi Annan met today in

Bürgenstock, Switzerland, with all sides to discuss further revisions to the proposal on Cyprus that he unveiled on Monday, with a view to finalizing the text that would then be put to simultaneous referenda in April.

He is determined to wrap up the Cyprus talks tonight, in accordance with the agreement reached in New York on 13 February.

He met this morning with Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis. That was followed in the afternoon by a meeting the Greek Cypriot delegation, led by His Excellency Tassos Papadopoulos, followed by one with the Turkish Cypriot delegation, led by Their Excellencies Mehmet Ali Talat and Serdar Denktash. In the late afternoon, he saw Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

[Wednesday evening, the Secretary-General met with the Greek and Turkish prime ministers. He invited the four delegations to join him in a ceremony at 10:30 p.m. local time for the handover of the plan.]

ANNAN URGES GOVERNMENT OF

MYANMAR

TO INCLUDE ALL PARTIES AT NATIONAL CONVENTION

The Secretary-General notes with interest the announcement by the Government of Myanmar that it will convene a National Convention to draft a new constitution on 17 May 2004.

The Secretary-General believes that for the National Convention to be credible, it should be all-inclusive.

He thus urges the Government of Myanmar to lift the remaining restrictions on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her senior colleagues in the National League for Democracy (NLD) as soon as possible, and allow the party to participate in the preparations for the reconvening of the National Convention, together with other political parties and ethnic nationality groups.

He further hopes that, in order to make themselves ready for the National Convention, all these representatives will be permitted to meet freely together and to conduct peaceful political activities.

The Secretary-General believes that the convening of a credible National Convention involving all political parties and ethnic groups would mark the beginning of a new phase in Myanmars political evolution and would result in positive responses from the international community.

ANNAN CALLS FOR END TO CONFLICT IN

DARDUR, SUDAN

In a statement distributed at cease-fire talks on Darfur, Sudan, held in N'djemena, Chad, the Secretary-General said: I am very disturbed by events in Darfur where the continuing conflict is having a devastating impact on the lives and well being of the people. Civilian casualties and serious human rights violations are routinely reported.

This is unacceptable and must stop. I welcome the efforts of President Idriss Derby, the Government of the Sudan, parties to the conflict and the international community to achieve a cessation of hostilities and ultimately, a long-term solution to the causes of the conflict.

First, the fighting must stop and to this end I strongly encourage all parties to work intensively towards declaring an effective humanitarian cease-fire. Humanitarian organizations and staff must also receive safe and unimpeded access to all those in need.

The United Nations remains ready to assist in the search for solutions in any manner the parties consider useful.

Tom Vraalsen, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs for Sudan, is in NDjamena, Chad for cease-fire talks.

AFGHANISTAN

FACES MAJOR CHALLENGE IN HOLDING ELECTIONS THIS YEAR

Afghanistan faces a major challenge in holding free and fair elections this year, the Secretary-General said in a message read out at todays international conference in Berlin.

The magnitude of the election task is enormous, with objectives on greater security, greater political freedoms, demobilization and reintegration needing to be achieved in a very short time, he said.

In his message delivered by Special Adviser Lakhdar Brahimi the Secretary-General also said that the road ahead will not be easy, nor will it end with the holding of elections.

His Special Representative for Afghanistan, Jean Arnault, told the conference that the vast majority of Afghans maintain that there will be no election without disarmament.

He noted that recent events in Herat brought home the consequences of allowing heavy and light weapons to remain in the hands of rival factions.

UN Development Programme Administrator Mark Malloch Brown said that disbursements by donors to Afghanistan already amount to some $4.7 billion, and says that trust, as well as commitment to partnership, has emerged.

And Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, called for more resources to counteract the growing drug problem in

Afghanistan

.

The donors conference is continuing this afternoon in Berlin, with more than 60 delegations participating.

SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD OF INCREASING ATTACKS ON U.N. STAFF IN DR CONGO

The Security Council received a briefing this morning by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean Marie Guéhenno, on the Secretary-Generals latest report on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

That report, he said, describes the increasing number of attacks on UN personnel in the

province of Ituri

and the shifting alliances of armed groups operating in that area.

Guéhenno noted that MONUC, the UN Mission in the DR Congo, has been undertaking extensive search operations to enforce the Ituri without weapons policy.

Following consultations, the Security Council today expressed, in a press statement, its concern over the serious incidents in Kinshasa on 28 March, and called on all parties to ensure that the transition was not jeopardised. They added that they hoped that all would be made clear about this serious incident in swift and transparent manner.

Council members called upon the Congolese leaders to make every effort possible in order to proceed with the full implementation of the Global and All-Inclusive Agreement on the Transition. They appealed to them in particular to take steps necessary for the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of combatants, reform of the security sector, the full reestablishment of the State authority and the successful organisation of elections.

U.N. MISSION

WELCOMES GOVERNMENT INQUIRY

INTO RECENT VIOLENCE IN KINSHASA, DR

CONGO

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has welcomed the establishment of a Government Commission of Inquiry to shed light on last weekend s violent events in Kinshasa.

During its weekly overview of events in the DR Congo, the Mission also noted that as of today, 10,468 foreign ex-combatants and their dependents have left the country and returned to neighbouring Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi.

The Mission estimates that between

8,000 to

10,000 foreign ex-combatants remain on Congolese soil, most of them Rwandan. In November 2003, the Governments of the DRC and Rwanda agreed to resolve the issue of Rwandan militias within 12 months.

The Mission also announced that the United Nations, in coordination with the national Government and NGOs will be launching a barge on Thursday to provide long-awaited medical assistance to riverside communities in the North West of the DR Congo.

STANDARDS IMPLEMENTATION PLAN FOR KOSOVO LAUNCHED TODAY

The Standards Implementation Plan for Kosovo was launched today. The plan is a detailed policy plan that sets specific goals in areas such as the building of democratic institutions, the enforcement of rights for minorities and the creation of a functioning economy.

At the launch ceremony attended by Kosovos Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi Harri Holkeri, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Kosovo, said the plan is not a panacea but it is a start.

He added that while not every community has taken part in the plans production, it nevertheless includes a huge range ofpolicies which if effectively implemented will protect members of all communities in Kosovo.

NEW ESTIMATES ON TOLL OF MARCH RIOTS IN KOSOVO

UNMIK, the UN Mission in Kosovo, today gave out new estimates on casualties and damage from the March riots, based on current information available.

Regarding deaths, there have been a total of 19; the victims include 11 Kosovo Albanians and 8 Kosovo Serbs.

Regarding injuries, more than 900 people were injured; this includes 65 international police officers and 58 Kosovo Police Service officers.

Regarding property damage 29 churches and monasteries, around 800 houses and more than 150 vehicles were destroyed or suffered substantial damages.

SECURITY COUNCIL WELCOMES INQUIRY INTO OIL-FOR-FOOD PROGRAMME

In a letter sent to the Secretary-General regarding his recent decision to set up an independent, high-level inquiry into allegations of corruption within the UN Oil-for-Food humanitarian operation for Iraq, the President of the Security Council, Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière of France, said that the Council members have welcomed his decision to establish this inquiry on the administration and management of the [Oil-for-Food] Programme.

In the letter, the President added that the Council members expressed their readiness to cooperate with the inquiry accordingly, and called upon other Member States to act likewise.

Meanwhile, following the closing of the accounts at the end of financial period 2003, the United Nations transferred $2 billion today from the Escrow Account to the Development Fund for Iraq. This makes a total of $7.6 billion that have been transferred since the adoption of

Resolution 1483.

SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS BRIEFING ON COTE D'IVOIRE

ADVANCE PARTY OF UN PEACEKEEPERS ARRIVE

The Security Council today also heard a briefing and discussed recent developments in Cote D'Ivoire.

Also today, 30 military officers and five UN civilian police officers from Accra, Ghana, where they were receiving pre-deployment training, arrived in Abidjan today. More un peacekeepers will be joining the mission on April 1 and thereafter.

SPECIAL ENVOY IN

ERITREA

TO INSPECT HUMANITARIAN SITUATION

Martti Ahtisaari, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Humanitarian Crisis in the Horn of Africa, will start a two-day visit to Eritrea

today.

Ahtisaari will get a first hand look at the humanitarian situation there and highlight any gaps in assistance.

He will also discuss the progress made in the implementation of recovery and food security strategies that could reduce the region's vulnerability to drought, including Eritrea's Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, the National Food Security Strategy and the recently approved Integrated Recovery Programme.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Eritrea says an estimated 1.9 million people are unlikely to be able to feed themselves in Eritrea this year and urges a timely response to the UN humanitarian appeal for that country.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

GERMAN AMBASSADOR TO BRIEF ON SECURITY COUNCILS APRIL PROGRAMME: Today is the last day of the French presidency of the Security Council. Starting tomorrow, April 1, Germany

assumes the Council presidency for the month. Ambassador Gunter Pleuger of Germany has

scheduled

a press briefing

on the April programme following the first consultations under his presidency on Friday.

OBSERVERS DECLARE

GUINEA-BISSAU ELECTIONS TO BE FREE: Legislative elections took place in Guinea-Bissau on 28 March with 98 international observers deployed throughout the country. Due to logistical difficulties, mostly in Bissau, the capital, 20% of the polling stations were not able to open at all on Sunday. They reopened on Tuesday to allow some 30, 000 voters to vote. The international observers declared that the elections were free, fair and transparent and called on all political actors to respect the results. A new government is expected to be formed in the next few days, following the announcement of the results.

COMMITTEE FORMED TO MONITOR DONATIONS PLEDGED FOR LIBERIA: UNMIL, the UN Mission in Liberia, said today that the Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia, Charles Gyude Bryant, on Thursday, 25 March, launched a committee to monitor the implementation of donor assistance pledged at the Liberia Reconstruction Conference in February. The Results Focused Transitional Framework Implementation and Monitoring Committee is headed by Chairman Bryant, with the United Nations and the World Bank as vice-chairs.

NEPALS COMMITMENT TO HUMAN RIGHTS WELCOMED: Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan today welcomed the Government of Nepals declaration reaffirming its commitment to international human rights and humanitarian law. He expressed his hope that the Governments commitment would help protect civilians from the current armed conflict. We have a press release with more details.

CONCERN AT LOSS OF DOMESTIC ANIMAL BREEDS: The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today that the loss of domestic animal breeds around the world is continuing at an alarming rate. A preliminary assessment of new data received from more than 80 country reports shows now that the number of breeds threatened by extinction is further increasing. FAO says the loss is important as genetic diversity helps insure against future threats such as famine, drought and epidemics.

According to its World Watch List in 2000, out of the around 6300 breeds registered by FAO, 1350 are threatened by extinction or are already extinct.

  • * The guest at todays briefing was Stephen Lewis, the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. Recently returned from a visit to

    Swaziland

    , he spoke about HIV/AIDS in that country, and the World Health Organizations 3 by 5 Initiative, which getting three million people on antiretroviral therapy by the end of 2005.

    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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