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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-09-05

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

DAILY HIGHLIGHTS

Friday, 5 September 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

  • Secretary-General recommends that Security Council consider arrangements allowing Iraq to meet oil sales shortfall in "oil-for-food" programme.
  • UN human rights monitors in Cambodia find evidence of summary executions, torture and missing persons in aftermath of recent coup.
  • Expulsion of refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo prompts UN refugee agency to review its operations there.
  • UN food agency launches emergency project to help Democratic People's Republic of Korea avert new floods.
  • Mexico donates $300,000 to UN drug control efforts.
  • UNICEF calls on China and Russian Federation to join effort to ban landmines.
  • UN Secretary-General reacts with deep sadness to death of Mother Theresa and offers condolences.


In a new report to the Security Council, Secretary-General Kofi Annan recommends that consideration be given to creating an appropriate mechanism that would allow Iraq to meet its shortfall in oil sales during the first 90 days of the "oil-for-food" programme under Council resolution 1111 (1997). In making this recommendation, the Secretary- General notes that Iraq's decision to suspend oil sales pending the approval of a new distribution plan is expected to result in a significant shortfall in reaching the target of $1 billion worth of oil sales within the first 90 days. "Should there be a further renewal of the programme, the Government and all concerned parties should ensure that no similar delays will occur," he writes.

The Secretary-General also expresses concern about delays in the arrival of humanitarian goods, which are obstructing planning in the health sector and may adversely impact food security. Child malnutrition remains serious and widespread in Iraq, particularly among children under five, according to the report. The Secretary-General urges all concerned to expedite the processing, approval and delivery of humanitarian goods.

As of 31 August, a cumulative total of 1,831,101 tons of food and related items had reached Iraq, of which 1,516,378 tons were distributed to the country's governorates, according to the report. As of 17 August, medicines and medical supplies worth $14.9 million had been distributed to health facilities. The report found implementation for other sectors uneven. In the water and sanitation sector, no supplies had arrived, despite the fact that the Council had approved 16 applications worth $14,907,212.


The United Nations Centre for Human Rights office in Cambodia has found evidence of at least 41 politically motivated killings since the coup there from 2 to 7 July.

According to a just-released report, the number of extrajudicial executions could be as high as 60. In addition, a large number of corpses -- mostly soldiers brought by Government troops to various pagodas in the capital -- were cremated under "suspicious circumstances".

The report described evidence of torture by members of the Special Forces Regiment 911 and the Royal Gendarmerie. A list of 16 individuals reported missing is also provided in the report.

Personnel from the human rights office "met official resistance in their attempts to collect and verify information," according to the report. Among other incidents, they were threatened with an AK-47 being fired above their heads as they tried to verify allegations of large- scale executions in the area of the Pich Nil pass.


Top officials at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are reviewing the basis for UNHCR operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo following yesterday's expulsion of refugees from the country. "This was simply the latest in a catalogue of violations of basic humanitarian principles in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including attacks against refugee camps, the killing of refugees, forced relocations, blocking of access, and refusal to allow proper screening," a UNHCR spokesman told reporters in Geneva.

Consultations will be held this weekend among UNHCR officials to determine the best course of action, given the conditions in the country. "There are people there in need of help, so that will have to be weighed against the disgust that the organization feels about what has happened in Kisangani," said the spokesman. The High Commissioner will review the available options and will travel to New York next week to brief the Security Council on the refugee crisis in the Great Lakes region.

Meanwhile, the President of the Security Council, Bill Richardson of the United States, told reporters today that members of the Council strongly urged the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda to "fully meet their international obligations towards refugees."


The World Food Programme (WFP) today announced an emergency food- for-work project designed to help the Democratic People's Republic of Korea repair dikes destroyed by a tidal wave last month. The aim is to avert new flooding in the country, which has endured floods in 1995 and 1996 as well as drought this year.

The WFP will distribute 12,750 metric tons of food rations to 370,000 workers repairing 288 kilometres of damaged dikes. The rations will benefit more than 1 million people, as workers with dependents will receive extra rations for their families.


Mexico today donated $300,000 to the United Nations world-wide campaign against drug abuse and illicit trafficking.

The money was presented to the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna, Pino Arlacchi, by Mexico's Ambassador to Austria, Roberta Lajous. Mexico provided the funds to strengthen the capacity of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) to promote concerted global action to combat the many manifestations of the world's drug problem.

In taking this action, Mexico is responding to an appeal issued last year by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs which is seeking to broaden the Programme's base of voluntary donors. Since that appeal was made, $2.5 million has been pledged, over and above other voluntary contributions received by the UNDCP for global drug control activities.


The Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) today appealed to China and the Russian Federation to join the "Ottawa process" negotiations on a treaty prohibiting the production, sale, stockpiling and use of anti-personnel landmines.

Negotiators are meeting in Oslo for three weeks with the aim of concluding a draft treaty which would be opened for signature in Ottawa this December.

"The number of nations that have joined the Ottawa process has grown to a total that hardly seemed possible only 12 months ago," said Ms. Bellamy. Among the major landmine producers, it remained for China and the Russian Federation to join in the negotiations, she said. "In this matter of life or death, it is essential that the humanitarian impulse should override political considerations," she added.

UNICEF estimates that some 30 per cent of the victims of landmines are children. "UNICEF is charged with representing the interests of the world's children. We cannot just sit back and watch the death toll mount while the debate rages," said Ms. Bellamy.


UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan learned with deep sadness of the death of Mother Theresa, according to his spokesman. "He recalls with great emotion and gratitude their meeting on 14 June of this year, and that despite her frailty, her devotion to the welfare and well-being of the disadvantaged members of society was as strong as ever," the spokesman said, adding that Mother Theresa left behind a shining example of charity, service and spiritual fortitude.

Mother Theresa visited the United Nations twice, on 16 June 1995 and on 26 October 1985. "To all those who were touched by her presence on those occasions, to all those who benefitted from her humanitarian and development work, and to people around the world for whom Mother Theresa was a great symbol of compassion and hope, the Secretary-General offers his sincere condolences," the spokesman 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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