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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-02-07

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


Friday, 7 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.


  • Security Council expresses concern at worsening situation in Great Lakes region.
  • Security Council welcomes signing of agreements by Tajik parties.
  • General Assembly President calls for concerted action to find political solution to refugee crisis in Kenya and Great Lakes region.
  • International Committee of Red Cross hostages in Tajikistan released.
  • Government of Nigeria invites two human rights Special Rapporteurs to visit the country.
  • UN Secretary-General reappoints heads of Regional Commissions.
  • UNESCO Director-General to visit Russian Federation to mark "UNESCO Days in Russia".

The Security Council has expressed concern at the deteriorating situation in the Great Lakes region, in particular Eastern Zaire, and at its humanitarian consequences on the refugees and inhabitants of the region.

In a Presidential statement Friday, Council President, Ambassador Njuguna M. Mahugu of Kenya said the Council called for an end to the hostilities and the withdrawal of all external forces, including mercenaries.

"The Security Council also expresses its deep concern over the humanitarian crisis in the region and urges all parties to allow humanitarian agencies and organisations access to deliver humanitarian assistance to those in need," Ambassador Mahugu said.

He said the Council reaffirmed its commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Zaire and other States in the Great Lakes region; and to the principle of the inviolability of borders.

The Council called upon all the States in the region to refrain, from any act, including cross-border incursions, which would threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of any State and exacerbate the situation in the region, including endangering the refugees and displaced persons.

Expressing its full support for the Joint United Nations/Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Special Representative for the Great Lakes region, Ambassador Mohammed Sahnoun, in the fulfillment of his mandate, the Council urged parties in the region to cooperate fully with the mission of the Special Representative.

The Security Council Friday also welcomed the signing in Moscow on 23 December 1996 of agreements by the President of Tajikistan and the leader of the United Tajik Opposition.

In a Presidential statement, Council President Ambassador Njuguna M. Mahugu of Kenya said the Council believed that the agreements represented a qualitative change for the better and gave a new impetus to efforts aimed at achieving national reconciliation.

"The Council urges the parties to honour and implement consistently and in good faith the agreements already reached, in particular in the course of negotiating future agreements," he said.

Expressing concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Tajikistan, the Council called for continuing emergency relief including assistance for the return of refugees, in the context of the implementation of the protocol on refugees.

The Council strongly condemned the attacks on and kidnapping of international personnel, in particular those of the UN Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT), UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and others. It demanded the immediate release of all those taken hostage and stressed the inadmissibility of kidnapping and any other mistreatment of UN personnel.

The President of the General Assembly, Ambassador Razali Ismail of Malaysia has called for concerted action to find a political solution to the refugee crisis in Kenya and the Great Lakes region. In an interview with United Nations Radio, Ambassador Razali said the countries in the region must join hands to bring about political solutions.

"The major countries which handle issues through the Security Council must know of a more long-term solution instead of having refugee camps mushrooming all over the place," he said. Ambassador Razali, who is on a visit to Africa stressed that the refugees he spoke to were eager to go home and that a solution should be found.

The two International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) staff who had been taken hostage in Tajikistan were released unconditionally on Friday by the militia group which was holding them. In a statement Friday, ICRC said the decision to release the two ICRC staff was made unilaterally by their captors.

"The ICRC will consider the crisis acute as long as hostages are still being held. Therefore, the remaining ICRC staff who were sent to neighbouring Uzbekistan this morning will remain there until further notice", the ICRC statement said.

It said ICRC would continue to evaluate the situation in order to determine the implications of this crisis on its relief programme in Tajikistan which, for the time being, remained suspended.

Meanwhile, the UN Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) said in a statement Friday that it was particularly concerned with the condition of two hostages, one UNMOT military observer and one journalist, who are in poor health.

In view of the precarious security situation in Dushanbe and persisting danger to the lives of United Nations personnel, the Special Representative to the Secretary-General Gerd Merrem has decided to temporarily relocate UNMOT and all other UN non-essential UN staff from Tajikistan to Uzbekistan until the security situation improves in the country, the statement said.

The Government of Nigeria has invited two human rights Special Rapporteurs to visit the country. The Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Param Cumaraswamy of Malaysia, and the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Bacre Waly Ndiaye of Senegal, have accepted the invitation and will visit Nigeria from 23 February to 5 March 1997.

The Special Rapporteurs initially requested permission to undertake a fact- finding mission following the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni leaders in November 1995.

The United Nations General Assembly, in a resolution adopted on 12 December 1996, had regretted the fact that the Nigerian government had not allowed the two Special Rapporteurs to visit the country before preparing their report to the Assembly and asked that the Government of Nigeria immediately cooperate with the Special Rapporteurs to enable their mission to take place.

The Special Rapporteurs will issue a report on the visit to the fifty-third session of the Commission on Human Rights, which begins in Geneva on 10 March 1997.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has reappointed incumbent heads of United Nations Regional Commissions, the Spokesman for the Secretary- General Fred Eckhard said today.

The reappointed officials are K.Y. Amoako (Ghana) Economic Commission for Africa (ECA); Yves Berthelot, (France), Economic Commission for Europe (ECE); Hazem El Beblawi (Egypt), Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA); Adrianus Mooy, (Indonesia), Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP); Gert Rosenthal, (Guatemala), Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

Mr. Wally N'Dow of Gambia has been reappointed as head of HABITAT. Other reappointments are, Giorgio Giacomelli of Italy for UN Office in Vienna and Vladimir Petrovsky of the Russian Federation as head of UN Office in Geneva.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Director- General Federico Mayor will visit the Russian Federation from 9 to 14 February to mark "UNESCO Days in Russia", a series of more than 50 concerts, cultural exhibitions, scientific conferences and other events organised from Siberia to St. Petersburg.

The Director-General's official visit will include the inauguration of three UNESCO university chairs, a Journalists Training Centre and a UNESCO Institute on Information Technologies in Education. Launched in January, "UNESCO Days in Russia" is a two-month series of events and activities designed to further strengthen the Organisation's cooperation with Russia in education, science, culture and communication.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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