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United Nations Daily Highlights, 04-11-23
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPOKESMAN'S NOON BRIEFING
BY FRED ECKHARD
SPOKESMAN FOR THE
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
ANNAN RELIEVED AT RELEASE OF THREE ABDUCTED U.N. STAFF MEMBERS
IN AFGHANISTAN; COMMENDS ROLE OF AFGHAN GOVERNMENT
Secretary-General Kofi Annan is
delighted to learn of the release of Annetta Flanigan, Shqipe Hebibi and Angelito Nayan, the three United Nations staff members who were abducted in
Afghanistan on October 28, 2004.
He is profoundly relieved that their ordeal and the anxiety of their families and friends are now ended. The Secretary-General spoke to each one of them by phone earlier today.
The Secretary-General spoke to President Hamid Karzai this morning to commend him and the Government of Afghanistan for the crucial role that they played in securing their safe release and expressed his gratitude to the people of Afghanistan for their outpouring of sympathy and support for our colleagues over the past 27 days.
He also spoke to
Jean Arnault, his Special Representative in Afghanistan, to congratulate him and asked him to convey his gratitude to the UN family for their courage, dedication and solidarity during these difficult weeks.
The Secretary-General further thanks the international forces for their support to the Afghan authorities.
The Afghan people have high expectations and hopes with regard to the role of the United Nations.
The United Nations system will continue to work to strengthen the security of its staff in order to enable it to fulfill the organization's mandate to further peace, reconstruction and democracy in Afghanistan.
RELEASED U.N. STAFF MEMBERS REPORTED IN GOOD SPIRITS
UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported that the three released staff members seem fine and are in good spirits. They are to join their family members soon.
The Mission expressed its appreciation for the support it received from the Afghan authorities and the public during the 27 days that our three colleagues were in captivity.
ANNAN CALLS FOR UNITED MESSAGE OF SUPPORT TO IRAQI PEOPLE
urged the Governments gathered at the International Conference on
Iraq to send a united message to the Iraqi people: The international community believes in you. We are determined to help you succeed.
He said that the United Nations is committed to helping Iraq, including its work today to coordinate international aid and to assist Iraqs electoral authorities.
The measure of our success is not the number of staff we have in Iraq, he said. It is the degree to which we translate our commitment into effective support for Iraqs transition.
The participants at the conference, held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, agreed to a communiqué that affirmed the right of the Iraqi people to a secure and stable life, and to determine freely their future through democratic means and to exercise full control over their natural and financial resources.
ANNAN, OTHER QUARTET MEMBERS, TO SUPPORT FOR PALESTINIAN ELECTIONS
While in Sharm el-Sheikh, the Secretary-General also had a working breakfast with the other members of the
Middle East Quartet, which brings together the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States.
He told reporters afterward that all the Quartet members are encouraged by what is happening in the Middle East, and reaffirmed their determination to support the Palestinian elections that are due in January.
Asked about the issue of freedom of movement for Palestinians during the electoral period, the Secretary-General said that if elections are to be held then people are going to have to move around so some of the restriction will have to be lifted. "We are hopeful that it will be done," he added.
U.N. ELECTORAL EXPERT HELPING PREPARE PALESTINIAN ELECTIONS
Pascal Soto, the UN
electoral expert who is providing technical assistance for the Palestinian elections, began his first day of work in the region today, meeting with his Palestinian and European counterparts.
Soto held meetings today with the authorities at the Palestinian Central Elections Commission and with the European Unions electoral component, one day after he arrived to begin his work.
ANNAN TO TRAVEL TO BURKINA FASO
After the Quartet meeting, the Secretary-General had a short bilateral meeting with the External Relations Commissioner for the European Union, Benita Ferrero-Waldner.
On the margins of the Iraq conference, the Secretary-General also had a series of bilateral meetings, with European Union High Representative Javier Solana, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa.
In a meeting with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, the Secretary-General have a briefing on the timetable of the release of the report of the
High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. They also discussed Iraq and
Later this evening, the Secretary-General will meet with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
Tomorrow, he will leave for Burkina Faso for an official visit, followed by an appearance at the summit of the Francophonie.
FUNDING OF VOLCKER INQUIRY IS LEGITIMATE
Asked about a letter from the Iraqi Mission to the United Nations, which objected to using money from the
oil-for-food funds to pay for the work done by the Independent Inquiry Committee headed by
Paul Volcker, the Spokesman said that the letter was received, and was answered last week.
The United Nations responded to Iraq that the use of the so-called 2.2 account money from the oil-for-food program set aside for administrative costs was a legitimate use of the account, and that the members of the
Security Council agreed with that judgment.
He said that, in the UNs view, this was an administrative decision made with the blessing of the Security Council.
Eckhard added, in response to a further question, that the
Secretary-General had decided on the matter after consulting with Security Council members on whether it was a legitimate use of the oil-for-food funds.
He declined to speculate about how the Inquiry would be funded if the 2.2 account was not used, but noted that the Secretary-Generals letter had indicated that he had considered an assessment on all Member States as the other alternative.
UNICEF REITERATES CONCERN OVER IRAQI CHILDREN;
REFUGEES REPORTEDLY FLEE FLIGHTING IN IRAQ
UNICEF, the UN Childrens Fund, today again expressed deep concern about the impact the hostilities there is having on the overall well-being of the children in
UNICEF says that in addition to the ongoing difficulties of living amidst daily violence and widespread insecurity, children are also suffering from the inadequacy of basic services such as water and sanitation.
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has
received alarming reports that up to a third of the refugees at Al Tash camp in Iraq have fled because of the fighting around Ramadi last week.
UNHCR does not have any international staff in Iraq and is unable to monitor the situation in the camp, which until recently hosted some 4,200 Iranian Kurd refugees. But UNHCR says it has learned from our partner on the ground that 30 to 35% of the refugees have left Al Tash in the past few days.
U.N. ENVOY DEEPLY CONCERNED AT ESCALATING VIOLENCE IN DARFUR
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan,
Jan Pronk, is deeply concerned at the escalating violence in
Darfur over the last two days.
He says the attack by the rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), taking the town of Tawila in North Darfur, constitutes a clear violation of the recently signed Abuja Security Protocol, and places tens of thousands of civilians at risk.
The fighting has already forced the suspension of humanitarian activities around El Fashir and threatens other humanitarian activities in the region.
Pronk also condemned in the strongest terms the killing of policemen and civilians at a camp housing displaced persons in South Darfur, and called on the Government of Sudan and the SLA to halt all fighting there immediately.
Pronk expects the Parties to account for their actions at the 25 November meeting of the Joint Commission in Ndjamena, Chad.
A special meeting of the United Nations, the African Union, the Government of Sudan and the major donor countries will be held tomorrow to consider the consequences of the attack on Tawilla town.
SECURITY COUNCIL ARRIVES IN BURUNDI TO SUPPORT TRANSITION
Security Council mission to Central Africa has arrived in Bujumbura, Burundi.
In remarks to the press upon arrival, French Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere said the purpose of the mission he is leading is to support the transition process in the country and the Burundian people.
During its stay, he said the Council hopes to relay the message that elections scheduled for next year will be held as scheduled.
In the meantime, it hopes that all the reforms envisaged in the peace agreements will be implemented, including the reconstruction and integration of the armed forces.
The mission left Kinshasa early this morning and arrived in Bukavu in the eastern part of the
Democratic Republic of the Congo.
While in Bukavu, Council members met with local political and military leaders, as well as with UN mission representatives.
U.N. MISSION IN COTE DIVOIRE SAYS HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IS WORRISOME
UN Operation in Cote dIvoire (UNOCI) says the human rights situation in the
country is worrisome.
Cases of abuses, arbitrary arrests and detention incommunicado as well as forced disappearances continue to be reported nationwide.
The UN Human Rights Office in Bouaké in the north reported yesterday increasing cases of forced disappearances, arrests and detention of people accused of being pro-Gbagbo, referring to the president. In this connection, the rebel Forces Nouvelles has proposed the nomination of a Liaison Officer with the mandate to interact on human rights issues with the Bouaké Office, UNOCI reports.
NATIONAL ELECTIONS IN OCTOBER SEEN AS KEY FOR PEACE IN LIBERIA
Liberias national elections scheduled to take place in October next year will be key to sustainable peace in the war-torn country, the visiting Under-Secretary-General for
Jean-Marie Guéhenno, said today in Monrovia.
Stressing the inalienable right of the people of Liberia to elect accountable leaders, he said the post-election scenario should not lead to a winner-takes-it-all attitude on the part of the victors.
PROGRESS IN KOSOVO REMAINS LIMITED AND UNEVEN
report on the
UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo was released today.
Looking at progress since July, the report notes that six months after the wave of violence, Kosovo is getting back on track toward fulfilling the standards that the international community have set out for Kosovo.
There has been progress in the area of reconstruction of the damaged and destroyed houses, of reform of local government, and the fact that the elections took place in a peaceful manner, and that they were judged to be free and fair and procedurally sound, was certainly a major step forward, the report says.
However, the report points out that progress remains limited and uneven, adding "the lack of progress in key areas, such as return and reconciliation efforts, security conditions and freedom of movement for Kosovo's minorities, in particular Kosovo Serbs, remains cause for concern."
Looking ahead, the report calls for a concerted effort from the Provisional Institutions to maximize the chances for a positive assessment in the planned mid-2005 review.
LACK OF COOPERATION COULD DERAIL YUGOSLAV CRIMINAL TRIBUNALS WORK
The main officials of the two international criminal tribunals today told the
Security Council that they are meeting their targets to complete their work, but also pleaded for more cooperation.
Carla Del Ponte, the Prosecutor for the
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), told the Council in its open meeting that the lack of cooperation by some States in arresting and transferring people is an obstacle that could still derail the completion strategy. She said that 20 fugitives are still at large, and most should be tried in The Hague.
Hassan Jallow, the Prosecutor for the
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, said he is committed to the deadline for concluding investigations by the end of this year. He said that 2005 will pose a real challenge, with the Tribunal having its highest number of simultaneous trials ever.
The Tribunal Presidents said that ICTY has completed or is holding proceedings involving sixty accused, while the one in Rwanda has a total of completed and ongoing cases involving 48 accused.
NUMBER OF WOMEN LIVING WITH HIV HAS RISEN GLOBALLY
The number of women living with
HIV has risen in each region of the world over the past two years,
according to this years
AIDS Epidemic Update, put out by the
World Health Organization and
In East Asia, the number of women with HIV increased by 56% over the past two years; followed by Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which recorded increases of 48%.
According to the report, the number of people living with HIV globally has reached its highest level, with an estimated 39.4 million infected people, up from 36.6 million two years ago.
The report also finds that differing regions are experiencing different stages of the AIDS epidemic.
DETERIORATING HUMANITARIAN CONDITIONS REPORTS IN COLOMBIA: A mission from the
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has
confirmed deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the municipality of Bojaya, in
Colombia's western province of Chocó. It says that the civilian population there is increasingly fearful and alarmed by reports that FARC guerrilla and paramilitary forces are again massing in the area. This is the same region that received international attention in May 2002, when more than a hundred people taking refuge in a church were killed by explosives. Thousands of people left the area after the massacre, and hundreds of them have still not returned. Civilian communities and organisations working in Chocó have told UNHCR that there is a high possibility of new, large-scale displacement from the area.
NORTH KOREA WILL REQUIRE FOOD AID DESPITE BUMPER HARVEST: The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea will require food aid for more than a quarter of its population in 2005, despite its best harvest in ten years. That is the
finding of a joint
report by the
World Food Programme and the
Food and Agriculture Organization. The situation is partially due to higher food prices, and is posing particular problems for young children, the elderly, and pregnant and nursing women.
ACCUSED PERSON NOT AN INVESTIGATOR INTO SEXUAL ABUSE: The Spokesman said that the person accused of soliciting a prostitute in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo was not a member of the
UN Office for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). He is a resident auditor of OIOS, based in Kinshasa, but he is not an investigator and has had no role in the investigation into
sexual abuse in the
UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
NEW SECURITY WALL AT U.N. HEADQUARTERS IS PART OF NEW PERIMETER: Asked about work being done on a new wall at UN Headquarters, the Spokesman said this was part of the work being done to construct a new perimeter fence at Headquarters. The old one, the Spokesman noted, was practically a ladder, with one person having scaled it two years ago, after which he had fired shots at the building.
Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
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