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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-06-04

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

DAILY HIGHLIGHTS

Wednesday, 4 June 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 Security Council extends provisions of the oil-for-food programme on Iraq.
  • UN Secretary-General, in London, says he prefers a negotiated settlement to the crisis in Sierra Leone.
  • UN Secretary-General to submit reform proposals to the General Assembly on 16 July.
  • A three-month extension is recommended for the UN Mission of Observers in Tajikistan.
  • UN food aid agencies warn of a worsening food crisis in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
  • UNHCR reports catastrophic mortality rates among refugees at transit centres in Kisangani and Mbandaka.
  • FAO Director-General says further budget cuts would reduce programme activities of the UN food and agriculture organisation.


The Security Council, determined to avoid any further deterioration of the current humanitarian situation in Iraq, has decided that the provisions of the oil-for-food programme should remain in force for another 180 days. In a unanimous resolution Wednesday, the Council further decided to conduct a thorough review of all aspects of the implementation of the resolution 90 days after its entry into force and again prior to the end of the 180-day period.

The Council also requested the Secretary-General to report on whether Iraq had ensured the equitable distribution of medicine, health supplies, foodstuffs and supplies for essential civilian needs financed through the oil-for-food programme. At the same time, the Security Council directed the UN Committee monitoring sanctions against Iraq to process expeditiously contract applications as soon as the Secretary- General has approved the new plan submitted by the Government of Iraq.


UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Wednesday he would prefer a negotiated solution to the crisis in Sierra Leone following a military coup in that country. He made his comments at a press conference in London where he stopped on his way from Harare, Zimbabwe, where he had attended the summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

Responding to a question from the press, the Secretary-General said that it was important that the entire African continent had spoken with one voice against the coup d'etat in Sierra Leone. Mr. Annan said he was hopeful that the coup-makers would see the senselessness of their enterprise and "cut their losses and walk away, if not run".

During his day-long stay in London, the Secretary-General had meetings with several top officials of the United Kingdom. His discussions with the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Robin Cook focused, in part, on the situations in Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cyprus, East Timor and Libya.

The reform of the United Nations featured prominently in his talks with the Secretary of State for International Development Clare Short, who expressed full support for the UN leader's efforts to reform the Organization. The Secretary-General was also guest of honour at a luncheon hosted by the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Tony Lloyd.


Stressing the need for a collective discussion of his proposals on UN reforms, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has requested that an additional item on that subject be included in the agenda of the current session of the UN General Assembly.

In a letter to the President of the Organization's main deliberative body, Mr. Annan said he would like to present his reform proposals personally to Member States on 16 July. Noting that his report would cover a wide range of interrelated issues on restructuring of the UN Secretariat and improving its capacities, the Secretary-General suggested that his proposals be discussed in an integrated manner under a new agenda item entitled "United Nations Reform: measures and proposals".

The Secretary-General also expressed hope that the timing of his submission would make it possible for Member States to respond to his proposals in ministerial statements during the general debate at the next session of the General Assembly which begins in September.


Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended that the Security Council extend the mandate of the UN Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) for three months, until 15 September.

In a report to the Council released on Wednesday, the Secretary- General said that the signing of the protocol on guarantees on 28 May had completed the series of agreements to be concluded by the parties -- the Government of Tajikistan and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO). He said the implementation of these agreements into political practice would require consistent good faith and constant effort of the parties, as well as the sustained, vigorous support by the international community.

Under the agreements, UNMOT would continue to monitor the ceasefire agreement and to provide general political support and good offices, and technical and specialized advice. The Secretary-General noted, however, that pursuant to the protocol on military issues, the UN mission in Tajikistan was to monitor the process of reintegration, disarmament and disbandment of the armed units of UTO and the reform of the governmental power structures. To fulfil the tasks envisaged, the Secretary-General said that the mandate of the mission would require amendment; its civilian complement would need to be strengthened and the number of its military observers significantly increased.


The food crisis in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is worsening rapidly and the country's rations system is on the verge of collapse, according a report released on Wednesday by United Nations food aid agencies.

The report is based on the findings of a mission jointly undertaken by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) to assess the food supply situation in the country and review early prospects for 1997 food grain production following two years of destructive floods.

The mission, which visited DPRK last May, detected commonly recognized pre- famine indicators pointing towards possible starvation in segments of the population before the next harvest, unless remedial action was taken urgently.

Briefing the press at UN Headquarters on Wednesday, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme Catherine Bertini said that at half of the ten distribution sites used by the government there was no food available for distribution to provinces and to families and at the other five the food would run out in the next several weeks.


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has warned that catastrophic mortality rates continue to be reported among refugees within the last 24 hours after their reception at transit centres in Kisangani and Mbandaka, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A UN spokesman said on Wednesday that in Kisangani, where the refugees were on the whole in better condition than those discovered in Mbandaka, the 24 hour mortality rate hovered in the range of 45 dead per 10,000. Most deaths in the Kisangani transit centre were due to malnutrition, severe dehydration, diarrhoea, severe anemia and complicated malaria.

According to the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs, some 600 refugees were transported to Kisangani. Those refugees were under medical care and still too weak to be repatriated to Rwanda.


The Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Jacques Diouf has warned that there were limits to efficiency savings and that further budget cuts would reduce programme activities and substantive output of the Rome-based Organisation.

In his remarks on Monday to the opening session of FAO's interim governing body, the Council, Mr. Diouf said that at a time of budget stringencies for governments and international organizations everywhere, the FAO needed to be innovative in its search for the funds needed to implement the plan of action adopted at last year's World Food Summit.

The Council of the FAO is currently meeting in Rome to review the world food situation, as well as the Organization's programme of work and budget. The budgetary debates are taking place against the backdrop of exceptional food emergencies in 29 countries. In proposing a zero nominal growth alternative, the head of FAO stressed that there was a price to pay. The proposed $650 million zero growth budget, while not entailing increased assessments, would lead to substantially reduced programme activity and output for the benefit of the membership, he said.


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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