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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-09-19
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, 19 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.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday welcomed the announcement at the United Nations Association dinner on Thursday night of a $1 billion contribution by Ted Turner, the cable television entrepreneur and Vice-Chairman of Time Warner, Inc., to fund United Nations humanitarian programmes around the world.
Reacting to the announcement, the Secretary-General characterized the gift as a "wonderful gesture", and, hopefully, "a sign of things to come". He said that the offer demonstrated Mr. Turner's "belief in the Organization and international cooperation," adding, "I hope it will inspire governments to pay what they owe."
A UN spokesman has pointed out that the funds will not offset the $1.5 billion that the United States owes the United Nations because the world body cannot accept contributions from private citizens. The Secretary- General said the money would be used to finance projects providing humanitarian assistance to the needy around the world.
Mr. Turner said his intention was to acknowledge the Secretary- General's reform efforts and to give the United Nations a much-needed boost at this time of financial crisis. The Secretary-General, in thanking Mr. Turner, said, "He has shown the way".
Mr. Turner said he intended to invite others to contribute to the fund, which would be established as a non-profit charity under United States law and would be apportioned in $100 million amounts each year. In the words of the Secretary-General, "If we can get those with a capacity to give to be sensitive to the needs of others around the world, I think we can expect more money."
Members of the Security Council have called on both sides of the conflict in Georgia show flexibility in order to achieve a comprehensive political settlement.
Addressing reporters on behalf of the members, Council President Bill Richardson of the United States said they were concerned about the slow pace of progress in the Georgian conflict. Noting that prospects for progress had improved in recent months "due to the important initiatives of the Russian Federation in its capacity as facilitator", Council members called on the parties to cooperate fully towards a settlement.
Ambassador Richardson spoke after the Council was briefed by the Secretary- General's Special Representative for Georgia, Liviu Bota. He said that Council members welcomed Mr. Bota's decision to reconvene a meeting on the issue which was adjourned in July in Geneva under the chairmanship of the United Nations with the Russia Federation as facilitator.
The United Nations refugee agency reported on Friday that thousands of people have fled intense fighting in Congo-Brazzaville to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
"We have received reports that the situation has worsened in Brazzaville," a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told reporters in Geneva. Intense shelling in Brazzaville had prompted several hundred people to cross the Congo river into Kinshasa each day.
The UNHCR reports having registered 27,578 refugees at Kinkole, a camp 30 kilometres outside Kinshasa. That figure did not include large numbers of former immigrant workers in Brazzaville who are now in Kinshasa.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) are warning of serious malnutrition in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
According to the WFP, an average of 17 per cent of young children surveyed in the country are seriously undernourished. "Without adequate assistance, we can expect massive mortality in the coming winter," WFP Executive Director Catherine Bertini warned in a statement. "The study only measured children in nurseries and kindergartens, but the fact that there were extremely malnourished children in hospitals and homes, who were not part of the sample, means that the malnutrition rate could be worse than the findings suggest," she said.
The WFP has been distributing supplementary food rations to 2.6 million children aged six or younger since May. Malnutrition persists, however, in children who cannot absorb the nourishment because they suffer from diarrhoea, respiratory ailments and other diseases left untreated for lack of medicines and medical care.
Calling for a comprehensive approach to the crisis, UNICEF's Deputy Director of Emergency Operations, Peter McDermott, said, "The complexities of the situation demand a far more comprehensive approach which must include a focus on longer-term health care programmes and the training of medical staff."
UNICEF continues to combine emergency supplementary food aid -- it has supplied more than 110 tons of high-energy milk for severely malnourished children since May 1997 -- with support for the training of medical staff and the provision of essential supplies to hospitals and health institutions. Since May, UNICEF has trained more than 400 medical and other staff in 107 institutions in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Basic equipment, drugs, medical kits and vitamin supplements have been supplied to hospitals throughout the country.
Thousands of Tajik refugees who have recently returned to their homeland from Afghanistan may have to spend the winter without shelter because of a lack of funds, the UN refugee agency said on Friday.
The UNHCR said that many of the refugees are currently camping "in the wrecked shells of their houses, without a roof over their heads". On 1 August, UNHCR had launched a $9.6 million appeal for funds to pay for the reconstruction of 4,500 houses, as well as important health, education and employment projects which "has so far not received a single cent".
"We've been able to hand out some plastic sheeting and blankets," said UNHCR Regional Coordinator for Central Asia, John McCallin, "but obviously those will be totally inadequate when winter comes and the snow falls."
More than 5,600 refugees have returned since the General Agreement on the Establishment of Peace and National Accord in Tajikistan was concluded in June, according to UNHCR. They are part of the last group remaining in Afghanistan out of an original 60,000 who fled there to escape the civil war. UNHCR officials fear that the lack of funding may discourage the return of the remaining 8,000 to 9,000 refugees in Afghanistan.
A UNICEF representative on Friday warned of a looming humanitarian crisis in Sierra Leone if the free cross-border movement of relief supplies is not allowed.
The UNICEF representative in Sierra Leone, Tony Bloomberg, told reporters today that since the 25 May coup, the country's nutritional status had declined to the point where supplementary feeding was required. Although commercial food was available, most people did not have the means to purchase it and thus had to rely on relief supplies.
Sierra Leone's health system had collapsed, he said, and only minimal child survival activities were being implemented by UNICEF and other international relief organizations.
According to Mr. Bloomberg, the situation would deteriorate further unless constraints caused by the sanctions imposed by the Economic Community of West African States against Sierra Leone were removed. "What UNICEF would like to see is a very liberal exemption of relief supplies from that embargo, not just vaccines and injection material that is non-controversial, but also general food."
Meanwhile, WFP has warned that its food stocks in the Sierra Leonean capital of Freetown were almost completely depleted as a result of large- scale looting by armed men. In the last three months, armed men had looted an estimated 3,000 metric tonnes of food -- enough to feed 250,000 for a month. WFP reports that the remaining 58 tonnes of lentils left in its stores were virtually under the control of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council which has been ruling the country since the coup.
"Art Beyond Borders", an international touring art exhibition presented in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) and the International Museum of the Twentieth Century Arts, opened today at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The exhibition features the work of 24 renowned artists from around the world united around the common goal of peace.
The exhibit embodies the credo of the Museum that "art transcends cultural and racial distinctions". Nina Sibal, UNESCO's representative at the United Nations, said, "By bringing together artists from diverse cultures and nationalities, 'Art Beyond Borders' is contributing to international understanding and the promotion of a culture of peace."
Following its month-long engagement in New York, the exhibition will travel to UNESCO's headquarters in Paris in the Spring of 1998, where an additional 25 artists representing their countries will be presented. It will then proceed to tour Portugal and Japan, expanding at each stop.
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