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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-08-18

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


Monday, 18 August 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 says UN mission in Liberia, having attained its goals, will withdraw.
  • UN Secretary-General disturbed at renewed hostilities in southern Lebanon.
  • International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda will detain suspects for 30 more days.
  • UN International Police Task Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina finds unauthorized weapons in Banja Luka police station.
  • UN health agency and Great Lakes countries adopt plan to intensify collaboration.
  • International Seabed Authority begins two-week meeting in Kingston.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says that with the establishment of a democratically elected Government in Liberia, the UN mission there has achieved its principal objective, and its withdrawal, already under way, should be completed by 30 September.

In a just released report to the Security Council, the Secretary- General conveys his intention to consult with the Government of Liberia on establishing a peace-building support office to succeed the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL) after its closing.

Although "relative peace and stability have continued to prevail throughout Liberia," the Secretary-General cautions that, "the situation in Sierra Leone remains a potential threat to Liberia's stability." There are an estimated 130,000 Sierra Leonean refugees in Liberia. In response to the situation in Sierra Leone, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has stopped assisting voluntary repatriation to that country. The Secretary-General expects Liberia's emergency needs to remain great for the rest of the year. He says he will report to the Security Council shortly on a post-UNOMIL United Nations presence in Liberia.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is disturbed at reports of renewed hostilities in southern Lebanon. A spokesman today said the Secretary- General is particularly concerned at the targeting of civilians, notably the killing of two youths by a road-side bomb in Kfar Houne and the subsequent shelling of the town of Sidon, where six people were reported killed and many more injured.

The spokesman said that the United Nations, which has been in touch with both sides, urged them to do their utmost to prevent a further deterioration of the situation and, in particular, to refrain from targeting civilians.

Four persons arrested one month ago by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda will be detained for an additional 30 days to give the prosecution time to finalize its investigations. The extension was granted because new evidence in the cases recently became available from the Rwandan Government archives. Under the Court's rules, detention cannot exceed 90 days. In the event that indictments are not confirmed within that period, the suspects will be released.

The four persons currently being detained in the Tribunal's facility in Arusha are Georges Ruggiu, a Belgian journalist who worked with Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines; Aloys Ntabakuze, a former Commander of the Para-commando battalion of the Rwandan armed forces; Sylvain Nsabimana, a former prefect of Butare; and Gratien Kabiligi, a former Colonel serving in the General Staff of the Rwandan Army until July 1994.

Following reports of human rights violations in the Banja Luka police station in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the UN International Police Task Force initiated an investigation which uncovered a number of unauthorized weapons, according to a spokesman in Sarajevo. The evidence which prompted the investigation suggested that attempts had been made to intimidate Republika Srpska constitutional court judges, including through physical threats.

Among the unauthorized weapons discovered were a machine pistol, two other pistols, a number of magazines of ammunition and a plastic bag containing nine rifle grenades. The spokesman expressed concern about the discovery, noting that previous investigations had not turned up unauthorized weapons. He stressed that the investigation would be completed shortly and all evidence would be thoroughly examined.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the five countries of the Great Lakes region -- Burundi, Democratic People's Republic of Congo, Rwanda, United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda -- signed an agreement last week to intensify regional cooperation to improve health conditions there. Major public health threats to be targeted by the new collaboration include preventing and controlling infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cholera, measles, plague, poliomyelitis and malaria.

The plan calls for tackling health threats by organizing simultaneous national immunization days, standardizing treatment protocols and conducting joint operational research on health problems of common interest to countries of the region. Special emphasis will be placed on alleviating conditions faced by refugees, who make up 10 per cent of the population in these countries and are particularly vulnerable to the spread of disease.

The International Seabed Authority began a two-week meeting today in Kingston. Efforts will focus on approving a mining code to regulate the exploration of minerals at the bottom of the sea. This task is receiving priority attention because, under the implementation agreement governing the Authority, investors wishing to explore the deep seabed must submit formal requests to it by 17 November. The draft mining code will lay down the terms for searching the ocean floor for deposits rich in manganese, nickel, cobalt and copper.

The Authority will also consider approving its proposed $5.4 million budget, and will decide what portion of this figure each member State will pay. The Authority's Secretary-General, Satya N. Nandan, has proposed assessing its members' dues on the same scale as that used by the United Nations. Starting in 1998, the Authority's expenditures will no longer be covered by the United Nations budget.

Also slated for consideration in the coming weeks is the agreement between the Government of Jamaica and the Authority on its headquarters. Discussions in March failed to settle the matter, in part because of concern that the current premises lack adequate security.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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