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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-03-08

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MARIE OKABE

ASSOCIATE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, March 8, 2000

ANNAN TO VISIT UNITED KINGDOM AND FRANCE NEXT WEEK

Secretary-General Kofi Annan will pay an official visit to the United Kingdom and France next week.

He will leave for London on Sunday. On Monday he will attend a multi-faith church service to mark Commonwealth Day. He will also meet later that day with Prime Minister Tony Blair.

On Tuesday, he will have meetings with Foreign Minister Robin Cook, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Peter Hain and Secretary of State for Defence Geoffrey Hoon. He will also attend a luncheon hosted by Secretary of State for International Development Clare Short. In the evening, he will deliver the Commonwealth Lecture and attend the Commonwealth Dinner.

On Wednesday morning, he will go to Paris, where he will have lunch with the President of the National Assembly, Laurent Fabius, and dinner with Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine.

On Thursday, he will lunch with President Jacques Chirac, followed by an afternoon meeting with Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. The Secretary-General will leave Paris for New York Thursday evening.

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES SIERRA LEONE

The Security Council held closed consultations today and heard a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations H&eacute;di Annabi on the situation in Sierra Leone.

Annabi said that the human rights situation in Sierra Leone remains a cause for serious concern, particularly in Port Loko, where looting, house burnings, harassment and abduction of civilians, rape and sexual abuse continue to be reported. Former members of the Sierra Leone Army from the nearby Occra Hills have been blamed for the human rights violations, he said.

Reports of harassment, abduction and extortion were also reported in areas controlled by the Revolutionary United Front, he added. However, Annabi said, the human rights situation has generally improved in areas where the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) has been deployed, and there has been a significant increase in the release of children held by the factions.

Today in Sierra Leone, UNAMSIL successfully completed a two-day operation to destroy unexploded ordnance in the Masiaka area, east of Freetown. On Tuesday, the Indian Engineering Company blew up 10 cluster bombs and one mortar bomb that had been found on the roadside. Earlier today, they destroyed a collection of 59 rocket-propelled grenades, mortar bombs and other ammunition. An inspection team has remained in the area to assess whether there are more bombs to destroy.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) noted in a press release today that it was able to deliver schoolbooks and other supplies to more than 15,000 Sierra Leonean children. That was the first time in 18 months that outside assistance has reached Sierra Leone's northern region, according to UNICEF.

In response to a question, the Spokesman said that so far this year more than 290 children held by various factions have been released and that according to UNICEF, more than 2,000 missing children are documented cases of abduction in Sierra Leone.

COUNCIL MEMBERS GIVEN LIST OF PROPOSED IRAQ COMMISSIONERS

The Security Council members received a proposal on Tuesday from the UN Secretariat on the composition of the College of Commissioners for the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC).

The Council has until the close of business Thursday to respond to the proposal.

The Council has requested the Secretary-General in Resolution 1284 to appoint suitably qualified experts to a College of Commissioners in consultation with UNMOVIC's Executive Chairman and the Council members.

The Office of the Iraq Programme noted today that, since the United Nations began to implement accelerated procedures for the approval of humanitarian contracts for Iraq on March 1, 30 humanitarian contracts for Phases VI and VII, worth $233.5 million, were approved.

Last week, Iraq exported a total of 12.1 million barrels of crude oil with an estimated value of $330 million. This brings total exports in Phase VII to 145.1 million barrels, with a value of some $3.6 billion.

UN AND INDONESIAN OFFICIALS DISCUSS EAST TIMOR VIOLENCE

The UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) today sent its Force Commander, Gen. Jaime de los Santos, and its political director to Jakarta to meet with senior Indonesian officials and underscore the need to stop unlawful militia incursions into East Timor.

In the latest security incident on Tuesday, a UN observation helicopter spotted three huts that were burning in a village west of Atsabe in Ermera District. A group of 15 men, who were carrying machetes and spears and were believed to be militia members, were seen leaving the scene.

Shortly afterward, more huts were seen burning in a nearby village and the UN peacekeepers saw two men running away.

UNTAET believes that the militias that attacked three farmers in Atsabe on March 5 and exchanged fire with UN troops the next day are still in the area.

UN PEACEKEEPING CHIEF BEGINS MISSION TO KINSHASA

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bernard Miyet is on his way to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as part of a mission dispatched by the Secretary-General to explain in detail the United Nation's plans to deploy an observer mission in that country.

Miyet will seek the full support essential to necessary to deploy the more than 5,500-strong military observer mission.

The Secretary-General was asked by the Security Council in paragraph 5 of Resolution 1291, which authorized the expansion of the UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), to assess if the conditions sufficient for deployment exist.

Miyet is expected to arrive in Kinshasa Thursday. He is expected to stay in the DRC until March 12, when he is scheduled to travel to Harare, Zimbabwe. He is expected to travel to Kigali, Rwanda, and Kampala, Uganda after that visit, and he is also expected to go to Sierra Leone on March 19-20.

ANNAN NOTES CONTRIBUTIONS TO PEACE BY WOMEN

In a town hall meeting this morning to commemorate International Women's Day, the Secretary-General said that "women, who know the price of conflict so well, are also often better equipped than men to prevent or resolve it."

He added, "When society collapses, women pay a critical role in ensuring that life goes on. When ethnic tensions cause or exacerbate conflict, women tend to build bridges rather than walls. Through education and tradition, from generation to generation, women have passed on the culture of peace."

Other speakers who commemorated International Women's Day at UN Headquarters today included Mary Robinson, the High Commissioner for Human Rights; Ambassador Anwarul Karim Chowdhury of Bangladesh, President of the Security Council; and Angela King the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on gender issues. King sent a special message to the women of Afghanistan, expressing her admiration for them and adding, "You are not forgotten."

This afternoon, the Group on Equal Rights for Women in the United Nations is organizing a lunch in honor of the ten women Ambassadors currently serving in the United Nations, out of 188 Member States in all. Following the luncheon, a dialogue on gender equality will be held, chaired by Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fr&eacute;chette.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The World Food Programme announced today that it was launching its first airlift operation Friday to deliver urgently needed emergency food rations to tens of thousands of people left destitute by floods in Madagascar.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda announced today in Arusha that Jean De Dieu Kamahunda, a Rwanda genocide suspect arrested in France last November, was transferred to the Tribunal in Arusha Tuesday.

Greece signed the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism this morning. Greece becomes the 15th signatory to the treaty, which will need to be ratified by 22 countries before it can enter into force. Also today, the Republic of Korea became the 95th country to sign the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court. That treaty will enter into force once it has been ratified by 60 countries; so far, seven countries have ratified it.

The latest briefing notes from the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo provide some details on the incident in Mitrovica Tuesday. In that incident, a brawl between a Serb and an Albanian escalated into two hours of violence that left 22 Kosovars and at least 15 Kosovo Force (KFOR) soldiers injured. The situation has calmed down today, the Mission reports.

In response to a question, the Spokesman said after the briefing that the next report by the Angola Sanctions Committee set up by the Security Council is expected to be released as a document next Wednesday the day an open briefing on that subject is scheduled.

On Tuesday, the United Nations received payments from Namibia, Palau and Slovenia, and today received a payment from Jordan, bringing the number of Member States that have paid their regular budget dues in full for this year to 68. Namibia made a payment of just over $73,000, Palau around $10,500, Slovenia just over $640,000 and Jordan just over $63,000. (To access the full list of "Payments to the UN Regular Budget" click here.)

  • The guest at today's noon briefing was Carolyn McAskie, acting Emergency Relief Coordinator, who discussed relief efforts in Southern Africa and the scheduled Security Council's open debate on humanitarian action.

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