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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-02-04

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


Tuesday, 4 February 1997

This document is prepared by the Central News Section of the Department of Public Information and is updated every week-day at approximately 6:00 PM.


  • UN Secretary-General condemns killing of four human rights observers.
  • United Nations calls for release of five hostages in Tajikistan.
  • General Assembly should seek world court advisory opinion on sanctions, Special Committee on Charter is told.
  • Over 250 million children immunised against polio in Asia.
  • Forum on micro-credit and poverty eradication to be held at UN Headquarters, New York.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has expressed shock and dismay at the killing of four human rights observers in an ambush in Rwanda while driving in two clearly marked United Nations vehicles, the Spokesman for the Secretary-General Fred Eckhard said. The attack took place in Karengera Sector of Cyangugu prefecture in the south west of Rwanda. One local staff member was wounded in the attack.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jose Ayala Lasso has condemned the attack. Mr. Ayala Lasso said the deaths demonstrated once again the urgent need to work in order to ensure respect for human rights and to establish a climate of peaceful relations among all communities in Rwanda. He said this was the first loss of life resulting from an attack in the Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda.

The Field Operation has 139 human rights officers working throughout the country on the protection and promotion of human rights. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said it had immediately ordered human rights officers in Cyangugu, Gisenji, and Kibuye to evacuate to Kigali. Additionally, staff in Gitarama, Gikongoro and Butare had been instructed to remain at their base stations.

The United Nations has called for the immediate release of five military observers of the UN peace-keeping Mission in Tajikistan who were taken hostage by an armed group while travelling in two vehicles approximately 86 kilometres from Dushenbai, the Spokesman for the Secretary-General said. "This is the same group that detained twenty- three persons on December, 20, 1996. The group is demanding safe and free passage for its members from Afghanistan into Tajikistan," the Spokesman said.
An advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legalities and guidelines for imposing sanctions should be sought by the General Assembly, the representative of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia told the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organisation.

The Court's authoritative interpretation of the guidelines that already existed in the United Nations Charter and in other global and regional agreements was necessary, the representative said, as he also discussed the proposal by the Russian Federation on a draft declaration on the basic principles for United Nations peace-keeping operations.

The representative of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia asked the international community to meet its obligation under Article 50 of the Charter to help his country recover from the United Nations sanctions imposed on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

More than 250 million children under the age of five were immunised against polio in Asia during two rounds of polio immunisation in December 1996 and January 1997, the World Health Organisation reported.

In India alone, 117 million children were vaccinated in December and the data from 448 districts (out of the total of 510) showed that in the course of the second round 115 million children were reached by immunisation. Countries that participated in the massive event included, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam.

"This is the biggest breakthrough since the World Health Organisation (WHO) started on the road to polio eradication back in 1988", according to Dr. Jong-Wonk Lee, WHO Global Programme for Vaccines and Immunisation. "For years, the Indian subcontinent remained probably the most important reservoir of polio virus transmission, typically reporting everywhere between two thirds to three quarters of the global polio incidence," he said.

The link between access to credit and poverty eradication in Africa would be the focus of a one-day briefing by practitioners, United Nations agencies, and non-governmental organisations to be held at UN Headquarters on Thursday, 6 February, 1997.

Following immediately after the Micro-credit Summit in Washington, D.C., the meeting will bring to New York several African practitioners for discussions on how improving access to credit could help empower Africa's poor, particularly women, to become more active participants in the development process, thereby freeing themselves from poverty.

According to the UN Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development (DPCSD), the majority of the 1.5 billion people who will live on less than $1 a day by the year 2000, will be from sub- Saharan Africa.

Among topics to be discussed are the impact that access to micro- credit could have on food security, women's economic empowerment, employment and self-employment, and provision of basic social services. Ways of linking traditional banking systems to micro-credit in order to facilitate the poor's access to credit will also be examined.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

From the United Nations home page at <> - email:

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