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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-02-05

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

DAILY HIGHLIGHTS

Wednesday, 5 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.

HEADLINES

  • UN Secretary-General expresses regret at fatal mid-air collision involving two Israeli transport helicopters.
  • UN Mission of Observers in Tajikistan reports second abduction of international workers in as many days.
  • United Nations decides to continue relief operations in Rwanda; requests Government of Rwanda to provide military escort to UN personnel.
  • World Food Programme welcomes decision by Zaire to ease restrictions on aid flights.
  • World Health Organisation announces Inter-Agency Appeal to control epidemic meningitis in Africa.
  • Fourteenth United Nations Regional Cartographic Conference for Asia begins in Bangkok, Thailand; looks at ways to support implementation of Agenda 21 for Region.


UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has expressed regret at the mid-air collision of two Israeli transport helicopters over northern Israel on Tuesday, with loss of 70 lives. Mr. Annan expressed his condolences to the Government and people of Israel as well as to the bereaved families of the victims.
The United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) has expressed dismay and concern at the abduction of two International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers and five journalists, approximately 86 kilometers from Dushenbai, Tajikistan.

The abduction was the second in two days carried out by the armed group under command of Commander Bakhrom, which took five UNMOT staff members hostage on Tuesday. In a statement Wednesday, UNMOT condemned the actions and demanded immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

The Mission said it had been in contact with the highest political and military representatives of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, as well as with those who were believed to be able to exert influence over Commander Bakhrom and his group.


The United Nations has decided to continue its relief operations in Rwanda but has asked the Government of Rwanda to provide military escort for its personnel travelling outside of Kigali, the Spokesman for the UN Secretary- General, Fred Eckhard said, Wednesday. The decision comes in the wake of the killing of five human rights observers in an ambush in Rwanda on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has announced that some 40,000 Rwandan refugees have fled encampments in the Shabunda area in eastern Zaire on Wednesday following reports that rebels have taken a town nearby. According to Dillah Doumaye, UNHCR's Deputy Representative in Zaire, all the refugee sites in Shabunda were empty.

"The refugees packed their belongings, the plastic sheets they use for shelter and went away. They were prepared to leave and the departure was orderly," he said.

UNHCR has been the only agency operating in Shabunda since other international relief workers withdrew in December in the midst of insecurity and extreme difficulties in bringing in assistance. The agency is also assisting another 40,000 refugees in nearby Amisi and 120,000 in Tingi Tingi.

The emptying of Shabunda came on the eve of High Commissioner Sadako Ogata's departure on Thursday, for the Great Lakes region. The High Commissioner is attempting to find ways of increasing the amount of humanitarian aid into eastern Zaire and ways of assuring the safety and protection of refugees in other areas.


The World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a decision by the Government of Zaire to allow the use of foreign-registered aircraft to deliver urgently needed humanitarian assistance.

The agency also welcomed the Government's decision to allow it to resume using a Zairian registered Boeing 707 to transport emergency supplies to the Kisangani hub. The Zairian authorities suspended the vital airlift on January, 30.

"This is a significant breakthrough", said WFP Spokesman Trevor Rowe. "The restrictions on foreign-registered aircraft had severely hampered our ability to airlift large amounts of food to the estimated 200,000 hungry refugees in eastern Zaire. Now we hope to more than double our daily deliveries," the Spokesman said.


The World Health Organisation has announced an estimated US $6.3 million Interagency Appeal to respond to the threat of epidemic meningitis in countries at risk in the African continent.

The Appeal would establish a fund that ensures the purchase and distribution of vaccine autodestruct injection material and antibiotics for treatment during the 1997 meningitis season in Africa.

The agency said that meningitis epidemic was a recurrent problem in the meningitis belt of Africa, stretching from Senegal to Ethiopia and includes all or part of at least 15 countries, with an estimated total population of approximately 300 million people.

It said epidemics of meningitis in Africa last year caused the largest number of cases and deaths ever recorded by that agency. In 1996, more than 150,000 cases and 16,000 deaths, mostly children, were reported.


The Fourteenth United Nations Regional Cartographic Conference for Asia and the Pacific, started this week in Bangkok, Thailand. The Conference is focusing on the contribution of surveying, mapping and charting in support of the implementation of Agenda 21 and other multinational environmental agreements.

The Conference also serves as a focal point for regional cooperation and transfer of technology and expertise. The welcoming message from the Under- Secretary-General for UN Development Support and Management Services, Jin Yongjian, which was read out at the opening session of the Conference, stressed how recent changes in technology and communication could now make the use of cartography a feasible tool for national, regional and global sustainable development strategy. He said the focus had now shifted from local and national issues and problems towards those with regional and global impact.


For information purposes only - - not an official record

From the United Nations home page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org


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