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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-06-10
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: email@example.com
Tuesday, 10 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.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday briefed the Security Council on developments in the Great Lakes region. He also briefed Council members on his discussions in Harare, Zimbabwe, with African Heads of State during the Summit of the Organization of African Unity, (OAU).
Talking to the press after the Council briefing, the Secretary- General said that there were now concerns that the effects of the situation in Congo/Brazzaville could spread to Central Africa.
On Sierra Leone, he said the negotiations were still going on between the West African States and the coup makers and expressed hope that they would succeed in averting the use of force. Asked whether the United Nations was offering any mediation role in Sierra Leone, the Secretary-General said the Organization was not involved at this stage. However, he added, the UN "will not hesitate to get involved if it becomes necessary".
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said on Tuesday that the Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees Sergio Vieira de Mello would be returning to the Great Lakes area for his second mission in less than a month.
Mr. de Mello would visit Kinshasa where he expected to meet with President Laurent Kabila. Mr. de Mello would then go on to the Central African Republic and to Congo/Brazzaville if security permitted. He would raise several issues with the authorities in those countries including access to and treatment of refugee populations, security of humanitarian staff and the screening of refugees who did not wish to return home.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday said that disarmament was a vital part of the mission and the mandate of the United Nations. Addressing the 29th session of the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, the Secretary-General said that the United Nations was "needed in the field of disarmament in the past and will be needed, even more, in the future". He pointed out, however, that the Organization would have to prepare for change, and be ready for reform.
The Secretary-General added that the transformation in the vision of security of States and the fundamental changes in the international security structure since the end of the cold war, would continue to have a direct impact on the role of the United Nations in disarmament. "The work of the United Nations in the field of disarmament and the maintenance of peace and security must evolve with the process of change itself", he stressed.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended that the Security Council extend the mandate of the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for a further period of six months until 31 December 1997.
In a report on UNFICYP the Secretary-General expressed regret that there had been no change in the excessive levels of military forces and armaments in Cyprus and the rate at which they had been expanded, upgraded and modernized. At the same time, he said, the military authorities had not accepted the package of reciprocal measures proposed by UNFICYP to reduce tension along the cease-fire lines. He urged both sides to reconsider their positions and to cooperate with UNFICYP to reach an agreement on the package without further delay. The Secretary- General said he believed that UNFICYP's presence on the island remained indispensable in order to maintain the cease-fire between the two sides.
Mr. Annan noted in his report that during the last six months, the situation in Cyprus had been much calmer than in the preceding period. Pointing, however to the continuing tension between the two sides, he urged the two leaders to send clear messages of tolerance and reconciliation to their publics.
The Secretary-General's Special Representative for Angola Alioune Blondin Beye received assurances of cooperation from UNITA leader Dr. Jonas Savimbi in Bailundo a UN announced on Tuesday.
UN Spokesman Fred Eckhard said these renewed assurances, given during the meeting in Bailundo on Tuesday, were necessary because the recent events in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and disputes over the diamond producing areas had contributed to a serious escalation of tensions in the Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul provinces on the Angola-Congo border.
The Spokesman reminded the press that the Secretary-General had seen President Dos Santos in Harare during the recent Summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The efforts of the United Nations Mr. Eckhard added, were to keep the peace process going and to prevent the tensions in the north from escalating into a serious military conflict.
Meanwhile, the Force Commander of the UN Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM III), Major-General Philip V. Sibanda, visited Andrada some 50 kilometres from the Congo border in Angola, confirming that there had been heavy fighting in the area. The Spokesman said the Major-General had received some witness accounts of casualties and types of forces which were in the area.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced in Geneva on Tuesday that it had stopped its activities in Burundi.
UNHCR said it ceased its activities in the Chibitoke region in the far north-western part of Burundi, after an ambush of a humanitarian convoy on Monday.
Unidentified men attacked three vehicles of UNHCR and its NGO partner African Humanitarian Initiative. A grenade was reportedly thrown at a vehicle carrying soldiers escorting the convoy. No injuries were reported.
The General Assembly's Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) has recommended a total of some $853 million for the budgets of a dozen peace- keeping operations for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998. The recommendation is contained in about two dozen draft texts approved early Saturday morning at the conclusion of the Committees' second part of its resumed fifty-first session.
The amount, which includes provisions for the support account for peacekeeping, reflects a drop from the more than $1.2 billion sought for the previous 12-month period from 1 July 1996 to 30 June 1997.
All drafts before the Committee were approved without a vote, with the exception of the amended draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which was the subject of two votes. In the first vote, the Committee approved by a vote of 58 in favour to 2 against (Israel and the United States), with 52 abstentions, operative paragraph 7 of the draft. That paragraph would have Israel bear some $1.7 million as the costs of the 18 April 1996 incident at UNIFIL headquarters at Qana, Lebanon.
Following that vote, the draft as a whole was approved by a vote of 107 in favour to 2 against (Israel and the United States), with 3 abstentions (Japan, Russian Federation and Ukraine). The draft texts will be presented to the General Assembly for a final decision.
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People has called on the international community must recommit itself to ending the decades-long illegal occupation by Israel of the Palestinian Authority, including Jerusalem and other Arab territories.
In a statement approved on Monday at the conclusion of a special meeting at the ambassadorial level marking the thirtieth anniversary of the Israeli occupation, the Committee said that as a direct result of the Israeli occupation, the Palestinian people were living as hostages in their own land and had not been able to enjoy their inalienable rights under the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations and Iraq on implementation of the oil-for-food plan was extended on Saturday 7 June when the first 180-day period ended at midnight, a UN Spokesman said on Tuesday. The same Memorandum had been "rolled over" for an additional 180 days and there had been an exchange of letters between the Office of Legal Affairs and the Permanent Mission of Iraq to the UN.
In a related development, the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs reported that last week the Security Council Committee monitoring the sanctions against Iraq approved 45 contracts for the sale of humanitarian supplies and put on hold 19 applications. The total oil proceeds deposited so far had reached $1.78 billion at the end of last week.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has appealed for $2 million to meet the transport costs for an emergency food distribution in southern Somalia where crop failure has led to food shortages and population movements.
The food agency plans to provide monthly packages to some 360,000 vulnerable Somalis in fifteen southern districts for the next two months until the arrival of the main cereal harvest at the end of July. Somalia had faced two years of declining cereal production which, combined with insecurity and unemployment, resulted in scarce food supplies and forced many families to consume their last private food reserves which are traditionally kept underground for times like this, according to WFP.
Burke Oberle WFP's Country Director for Somalia, based in Nairobi Kenya, told UN Radio that his agency had received reports of increasing malnutrition which prompted some families to move into towns and urban areas. Some of these areas, he added, were dominated by rival clans, a situation which had brought up some security problems or rising tension among the clans.
Working with international non-governmental organizations, WFP aims to provide up to 4,300 tons of food by bringing some shipments by vessel through the Somali ports of El Ma'an and Merca, and other shipments overland from Kenya and Ethiopia.
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will hold its 5th International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA) in Hamburg, Germany from 14 to 18 July.
The conference, under the theme "Adult Learning: a Key for the 21st Century" has been organized by the Hamburg-based UNESCO Institute for Education, will bring together representatives of the organization's Member States, UN agencies, and international organizations to discuss how to increase world-wide availability of lifelong education which is crucial need in a changing world.
The conference will debate a number of themes and feature three round table debates on adult literacy and human-centred development, adult learning and the crisis of work, and adult learning and empowerment of women.
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