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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-03-03

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





Friday, March 3, 2000


The World Food Programme (WFP) reported today that water is receding in many areas in Mozambique, amid reports of the arrival of more aid and efforts to coordinate the various organizations and governments providing assistance both on the ground and outside the country,

Ross Mountain, the Secretary-General's special humanitarian envoy, stayed in Mozambique given the urgency of the situation on the ground. Originally, he was to have attended a meeting in Pretoria called by South African President Thabo Mbeki to bring together representatives of all of the countries in the region affected by the flooding. Earlier today, Mountain made a helicopter assessment of the Save River basin -- one of the three river basins worst hit by the flooding.

Mountain has helped the government to set up a mechanism on the ground in Maputo, Mozambique, to coordinate the work of UN agencies, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations and has identified lead agencies for various pressing tasks. For example, the World Food Programme is charged with logistics and food, and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) will be taking the lead in water and sanitation issues.

In Geneva, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the WFP, UNICEF and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) met with donors today in a meeting that UN officials said helped to coordinate the efforts of various Governments in sending assistance. Before the meeting, some $50 million in contributions had been recorded, and more is expected.

UNICEF said today that it has received reports from some refugee camps in Mozambique, indicating that as many as 30 percent of children in some camps may have been separated from their families. The agency noted that rescuers have tried to save children first, which may explain how some children have been separated from family members.

The World Health Organization said there was a need to ensure clean drinking water and separate water sources used for washing, latrine and other purposes.


The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, announced in Geneva today that the Russian Federation had indicated it would accept a visit by the High Commissioner to the northern Caucasus region, including Chechnya. Robinson had asked to go to Chechnya to assess firsthand the human rights situation there.

Asked about Robinson's whereabouts, the Spokesman noted after the briefing that she is attending a Global Meeting of UN Development Programme Resident Coordinators in Glen Cove, New York, and will be attending meetings at UN Headquarters next week.

Also today, the Spokesman announced that Secretary-General Kofi Annan is sending his envoy, Franz-Josef Homann-Herimberg, back to Moscow this weekend. He will have talks with Russian Government officials starting Monday on the extension of humanitarian operations in the northern Caucasus, including humanitarian access to Chechnya.

The Secretary-General first sent Homann-Herimburg, a retired official of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to Moscow last October to discuss the humanitarian situation in the northern Caucasus.

UNHCR brought humanitarian supplies into the town of Grozny for the first time earlier this week. The objective is to turn this pilot project into a sustainable relief program.

Today's briefing notes from UNHCR provided details of its first convoy to Chechnya. Judging from the initial reports from UNHCR monitors who accompanied the convoy, the needs inside Grozny are great.

The monitors describe a devastated and still insecure wasteland, where only about 21,000 civilians remain, according to local registration lists. The monitors reported continued fighting in certain areas of Grozny. Bodies of civilian casualties are still being recovered from collapsed buildings, and mines and unexploded grenades are a problem in many areas.

According to official government sources, the number of internally displaced persons within Chechnya is more than 125,000, including an estimated 115,000 who are staying with host families and 10,500 others in camps. In neighboring Ingushetia, officials say there are more than 176,000 internally displaced persons.


Today, the Security Council held closed consultations on Haiti, in which it heard a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bernard Miyet on the transition underway from the UN Civilian Police Mission in that country to a new International Civilian Mission.

He noted the Secretary-General's report on Haiti, issued Thursday, which urged the parties in Haiti to ensure that their supporters "refrain from any violence, intimidation or any other act that could still put the holding and fairness of the elections at risk." Elections have been scheduled for later this month, but the Secretary-General noted reports of electoral violence and irregularities in parts of the country.

Miyet also discussed the shooting of a Russian soldier in Kosovo. The Council also heard a briefing by the head of the UN Special Mission on Afghanistan, Francesc Vendrell, on reports of recent attacks in that country.

Asked about problems of drug trafficking in Haiti, the Spokesman noted the Secretary-General's concern on that topic, but added that the report on Haiti focused on describing the end of the mandate of the Civilian Police Mission, which is scheduled for March 15. Eckhard suggested that the drug issue could be taken up by the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, based in Vienna.


The Force Commander of the UN Transitional Authority in East Timor, Lt. Gen. Jaime de los Santos, today raised to "high" the threat level of the western region of East Timor, which includes Maliana and Suai, following several security incidents over the past two days.

On Thursday night, a UN helicopter was shot at several times on East Timor's side of its border with West Timor, but was not hit. The shots were believed to have come from the West Timor side of the border.

On Wednesday night, there were three incidents of gunfire at or near UN peacekeepers' bases or observation posts.

There were no casualties in these incidents.

The Force Commander expressed his concern to the West Timor Commander of the Indonesian military and asked him to take firm action against perpetrators, including their arrest.


In a letter to the Security Council issued as a document today, the Secretary-General appointed Maj. Gen. Mountaga Diallo of Senegal to be Force Commander of the UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Today at The Hague, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia sentenced Tihomir Blaskic, a General in the Croatian Defense Council (also known by its Serbo-Croat initials as the HVO), to 45 years in prison for war crimes, crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

The sentence is the heaviest handed down to date by the Tribunal. Presiding Judge Claude Jorda said that Blaskic, who was a Colonel in the Croatian Defense Council in 1993, bore responsibility for the killing, wounding and rape of Bosnian Muslims in the Lasva Valley on April 13, 1993.

In his summary of the case, Judge Jorda also noted that "the Republic of Croatia did not content itself merely with remaining a spectator on the sidelines, or even seek simply to protect its borders. It intervened in the conflict pitting the Muslims and Croats of central Bosnia against each other."


The Secretary-General, in a statement, marked the 30th anniversary of the entry into force of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The Secretary-General emphasized that "the international community should immediately start taking new and effective measures to achieve the inherently linked goals of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation," the statement said. The Secretary-General added that efforts to seek the elimination of all nuclear weapons should remain a high priority.


A special meeting on Sierra Leone, convened in Bamako, Mali, by Malian President Alpha Konare, concluded Thursday evening with a call for the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) to remove obstacles to the deployment of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone.

The meeting also urged the RUF to return large quantities of weapons and military equipment seized by its forces from Guinean troops, as well as weapons which the RUF and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council, another rebel group, had taken from Kenyan UN troops. It also urged all parties in Sierra Leone to remove road blocks throughout the country and asked the UN Mission to establish more disarmament centers.

The Bamako meeting, which began on Wednesday, brought together the main parties in Sierra Leone, as well as the United Nations, the Organisation of African Unity and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which is currently chaired by President Konare.

RUF leader Foday Sankoh did not attend, but was represented by Mike Lamine, Sierra Leone's Minister of Trade and Industry. Sierra Leone President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah led the Government delegation, while the United Nations was represented by Special Representative Oluyemi Adeniji.

Today, Kabbah also issued a statement, along with Presidents Charles Taylor of Liberia and Lansana Conte of Guinea, saying that none of their three countries should be used as a base to destabilize its neighbors. That pledge came at the end of a summit, also held in Bamako, of the Mano River Union, which comprises their three countries.


Uzbekistan has become the 62nd Member State to pay its dues to the UN regular budget in full for this year. It made a payment of just over $260,000. (To access the full list of "Payments to the UN Regular Budget" click here.)

The Spokesman said that the Secretary-General is expected to hold a press conference on Tuesday at 11 a.m.



The Secretary-General's report to the Security Council on Sierra Leone is due.


The Security Council will hold a private meeting on Kosovo, which will include briefings by Special Representative of the Secretary-General Bernard Kouchner and Gen. Klaus Reinhardt, Commander of the Kosovo Force (KFOR). Kouchner and Reinhardt will also hold a press conference at 3:00 p.m..

The guest at the noon briefing will be Dennis McNamara, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs in Kosovo.

The second meeting of the open-ended informal consultations of the Plenary on the Millennium Summit will take place.

From March 6 to 15, the Open-ended Working Group on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Other Matters will hold meetings.

The Human Rights Committee's Working Group on Communications meets through Friday.

A survey prepared by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) entitled "Politics: Women's Insight" will be launched at a press conference at 11:15 by Anders Johnsson, Secretary-General of IPU, Angela King, UN Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, and Sheila Finestone, Senator from Canada.

The group of Governmental experts on the UN Conventional Arms Register meets through Friday.

In Geneva, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will meet through March 24.

In New Delhi, the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) will release a report on the launch of the World AIDS Campaign for the year 2000. The campaign will focus on the greater role men can play in the effort against AIDS.

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs will begin its 43rd session in Vienna, which is to last through March 16. The meetings will explore ways to enhance international cooperation in dealing with drug problems. The Commission's Committee of the Whole will last from Tuesday through Friday.


General Assembly President Theo-Ben Gurirab will open the first session of the Open-ended Working Group on the Causes of Conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa. Also next week, the President travels to Asia, for official visits to Japan and Singapore.

The Secretary-General will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. at UN Headquarters.


Wednesday is International Women's Day. To mark the occasion, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has proposed that women take control of the editorial content of news for the day. The Secretary-General will deliver a message to commemorate the day.

The Security Council has scheduled consultations on Sierra Leone.


The Security Council will hold an open debate on humanitarian action and the Council's role, which will focus on the role of UN peacekeeping and peace-building missions in humanitarian work, resource concerns and related issues. The Secretary-General will address the Council.


The Secretary-General's report to the Security Council on the implementation of humanitarian programs in Iraq is expected.

The Security Council has scheduled consultations on general issues relating to sanctions.



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