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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-03-10

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 FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, March 10, 2000

MOZAMBIQUE: RAINS HAMPER AID EFFORTS FOR SECOND DAY

Aid workers battled against heavy rains for the second straight day in Mozambique today, where the World Food Programme (WFP) reported grim conditions in camps housing flood victims. Because of the rains, some of the roads were not able to support the weight of trucks carrying food and other supplies.

A UN team managed to go out on an aerial assessment along the Limpopo River during a lull in the rains to look into reports of a large group of people stranded, but said that they did not spot any such group. The team flew at less than 500 feet above ground and reported that while houses appeared intact there has been major damage to agriculture.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said there was a huge concern for a rise in malaria in Mozambique, where even before the flooding, one out of seven people had the disease in 1999.

MADAGASCAR: FOOD AIRLIFT UNDERWAY; CHOLERA CLAIMS 1,300 LIVES

The World Food Programme (WFP), meanwhile, began airlifting food to flood victims in Madagascar. Two Antonov aircraft were expected to have delivered 400 tons today to the isolated town of Mahanoro, one of the areas worst hit.

WFP said that the biggest problem in Madagascar was in trying to reach victims scattered in small groups in the jungles.

WHO reported that the number of deaths from a cholera epidemic in that country has now topped 1,300.

The Government of Madagascar has launched an emergency aid appeal for some $3.7 million for more than 560,000 people affected.

WFP said food assessments were also underway in Zambia and Botswana.

A United Nations Inter-Agency Appeal for Emergency Relief has been issued for Zimbabwe for some $3.2 million, targeting 96,000 people hardest hit by the disaster.

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES SANCTIONS ISSUES

The Security Council began its closed consultations today by considering a background note, prepared by the Secretariat, on general sanctions issues. The note is an evaluation by the Secretariat on how it has followed up on 20 recommendations proposed in a note by the President of the Security Council that was issued on January 29, 1999. The Secretariat noted specifies ways in which it has acted on the Council's practical proposals to make sanctions work more effectively.

The Council decided to form a working group of experts, chaired by Ambassador Robert Fowler of Canada, to discuss general issues regarding sanctions and to provide a report by April 10.

After that consultation, the Council heard a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations H&eacute;di Annabi on the situation in Tajikistan following the recent election there.

Also under the agenda were further discussions of the program of work, among other matters.

Although the Spokesman had said Thursday that the Council planned to discuss Western Sahara today, he noted that, following discussions late Thursday afternoon, there was no consensus among Council members for a briefing on that subject today. A briefing on Western Sahara may take place early next week.

Asked about the consultation on sanctions, the Spokesman said that the Secretariat was not briefing the Council on the subject, but Secretariat officials were prepared to answer questions from Council members. The discussion was largely on practical issues pertaining to sanctions in general, and did not focus on Iraq, he clarified.

UN OFFICIALS ALERT INDONESIA ON EAST TIMOR INCURSIONS&nbsp;

The Force Commander of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), Lt. Gen. Jaime de los Santos, and the Director of UNTAET's Political Affairs, Peter Galbraith, met with Indonesian Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab on Thursday and delivered a stern message on escalating militia attacks in East Timor. They asked the Indonesian Government to seal the border between East and West Timor, close down the militia training camps, disarm the militia and assist the return of refugees to East Timor.

The Foreign Minister was clearly taken aback by the magnitude of the security incidents caused by the militias, with 14 attacks having occurred since Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid visited East Timor last month. Shihab reported the matter to Wahid.

This morning, Indonesian Defense Minister Admiral Widodo told the visiting UNTAET officials that Indonesia would close the militia training camps, stop the attacks and disarm them. "These words are encouraging, and it is hoped that they will be translated into deeds, which would help to stabilize the situation on both sides of the border," the Spokesman said.

UN Border Control officers confiscated on Thursday two hand grenades, three airguns and several packets of airgun pellets, as well as one ounce of hashish and some bayonets, from passengers on a ship carrying returnees from West Timor.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said it is concerned about Indonesia's plan to cut off aid to an estimated 100,000 East Timorese refugees remaining in West Timor, unless they make up their mind by March 31 on whether they will remain in Indonesia or return to East Timor.

Indonesian officials assured UN Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees Soren Jessen-Petersen, who was visiting Jakarta this week, that they would be flexible in enforcing the deadline, and also promised him that they would neutralize the militias.

Asked whether the militias were taking advantage of UN forces on the ground by stepping up attacks, the Spokesman said the United Nations had made no such direct link.

The recent incidents had followed President Wahid's visit to East Timor, he noted, adding "it appeared not just as a threat to East Timor and the UN Mission there, but (also) a threat to the policies of the President." He said that message had been conveyed to Wahid and added, "We're very pleased at the quick and positive response that we got."

He said that the UN force, like the previous International Force in East Timor, could use force to defend itself. He said he hoped Wahid's orders would be carried out quickly.

UN MISSION CONFIRMS SHIFT OF DUTIES FOR POLICE OFFICIAL

The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) confirmed that the deputy police commissioner for Mitrovica, John Adams, has been removed from Mitrovica and is now to work with UN police in Pristina. Reports suggesting that he had been fired are incorrect.

However, UNMIK said that his position was changed because he had taken a functional problem to the press, which was to have been handled between the Mission and the Kosovo Force (KFOR).

The UN Mission stressed that relations between the UN Police and KFOR are very close, and have been getting closer over the past month as events in Mitrovica have heated up. KFOR is in charge of security and law and order, while the UN Police are in charge of investigations. That distribution of authority is unchanged.

The Spokesman noted in response to questions that KFOR secures an area before a UN Police investigation begins. The UN officer had been critical of KFOR's actions in Mitrovica prior to the UN Police investigation, but KFOR had been following standard procedure, he said.

Asked about whether Adams had been disciplined for speaking to the press, the Spokesman noted that UN personnel are allowed to speak on areas under their competence. However, UNMIK officials believed that Adams had spoken inappropriately in criticizing KFOR for something that was in their mandate to do.

SIERRA LEONE PARTIES AGREE TO UNHINDERED UN ACCESS

A high-level meeting was convened in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Thursday by President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone as a follow-up to the meeting held last week in Bamako, Mali.

Former rebel leaders Foday Sankoh and Johnny Paul Koroma, as well as Chief Hingha Norman of the Civil Defense Forces, were present. Oluyemi Adeniji, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and General Vijay Kumar Jetley, the UN Force Commander, also attended.

They agreed that there will be unhindered access in all parts of the country to the UN peacekeepers and humanitarian workers; that there are no longer any areas of control by any combatant group and the Government has full control over every part of the country, and that disarmament will take place throughout the country as facilities are made available.

UN PEACEKEEPING CHIEF MEETS PRESIDENT KABILA IN KINSHASA

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bernard Miyet, on the first leg of his mission to explain the United Nations' plans to deploy an observer mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, met earlier today with President Laurent Kabila in Kinshasa.

A preliminary read-out of the meeting indicated that the discussions were positive. UN reconnaissance missions to the sectoral headquarters of the newly approved Observer Mission are planned to start as early as next week.

The Secretary-General sent Miyet to seek the full support essential to deploy the more than 5,500-strong force.

Meanwhile, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said at its briefing in Geneva that refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo continue to seek asylum in the neighboring Republic of Congo. UNHCR said they are fleeing fighting as the rebel forces of Jean-Claude Mbemba advance southward along the river toward the town of Mbandaka.

An estimated 25,000 refugees have settled in border villages of the Republic of Congo.

UN SPOKESMAN NOTES INVESTIGATION OF SUDAN HOSTAGE INCIDENT

In response to a question on a story in today's Financial Times on a recent hostage incident in Sudan, the Spokesman said the story was "essentially correct."

"Although the internal investigation of the hostage incident is still being finalized, it does confirm that the UN's Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) did transport three militia members on one of its planes, and this in fact triggered the hostage incident of last month," he said. "OLS has tightened its procedures to keep this kind of thing from happening again."

The spokesman called the hostage-taking "an isolated incident."

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Carla Del Ponte, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, said, "It is my desire to make life more difficult for Slobodan Milosevic and all other indicted accused." In a statement delivered Thursday in Budapest, Hungary, she also said she is dismayed that, 10 months after Milosevic was indicted by the Tribunal, he still remains in power and is avoiding international justice. She added, "This situation cannot be allowed to continue, and I wish to remind the world that he is an indicted accused, who must be delivered to the Tribunal to face Trial."

The Secretary-General's next report to the Security Council on the implementation of the "oil-for-food" program for Iraq, which was due today, is likely to be issued early next week, possibly by Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.

Asked about recent peace efforts between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea, the Spokesman said after the briefing that the Secretary-General welcomed the increasingly positive signs in the region and considered it to be particularly important for the two Member States open a dialogue "without delay."

Bosnia and Herzegovina became the 69th Member State to be paid in full for this year's regular budget. Today, it made a payment of just over $52,000. (To access the full list of "Payments to the UN Regular Budget" click here.)

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

Sunday, March 12, 2000

The Secretary-General will leave from New York for London at the start of a five-day trip to London and Paris.

Monday, March 13, 2000

The Security Council will hold consultations on Sierra Leone.

The Secretary-General will attend a multi-faith church service to mark Commonwealth Day in London. He will also meet later that day with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The General Assemblys Fifth Committee, which deals with administrative and budgetary matters, begins a three-week session. Among the items before the resumed session will be the scale of assessments for apportioning the expenses of the United Nations.

The Human Rights Committee will begin its 68th session.

The Preparatory Commission for the International Criminal Court will begin a three-week session in New York.

The Deputy Secretary-General will deliver the opening speech at the World Sports Forum in St. Moritz. On the following day, she will deliver the Brugmans Memorial Lecture in Bruges, Belgium.

The Ad Hoc Group of the States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention will start in Geneva.

Tuesday, March 14, 2000

The Secretary-General will have meetings with British Foreign Minister Robin Cook, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Peter Hain and Secretary of State for Defense Geoffrey Hoon. He will also attend a luncheon hosted by Secretary of State for International Development Clare Short, before delivering the Commonwealth Lecture in the evening.

Wednesday, March 15, 2000

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

The Secretary-General will travel to Paris, where he will have lunch with the President of the National Assembly, Laurent Fabius, and dinner with Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine.

The Security Council will hold an open briefing on Angola, during which Ambassador Robert Fowler of Canada, chair of the Council's Sanctions Committee on Angola, will present a report on the sanctions regime imposed against the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).

At 11:15 a.m., the United States Mission is sponsoring a press briefing by the organization Catholic Family and Human Rights. Then at 2 p.m., the "Beijing-Plus-Five" US Host Committee will announce its activities planned during the General Assembly Special Session on Women, which is to be held on June 5-9.

At 3 p.m., Parliamentarians for Global Action will hold a press briefing to discuss the Lusaka Accord and the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Wednesday is the last day of the mandate of the UN International Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH); the Mission will be replaced starting Wednesday by the International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti (MICAH).

Thursday, March 16, 2000

The Secretary-General will meet with French President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in Paris, before heading back to New York in the evening.

Thursday is Eid-ul-Adha (the Muslim festival of Abraham); UN Headquarters will be closed.

  • Jayantha Dhanapala, the Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, was the guest at today's briefing. He announced the Secretary-General's appointment of 16 Commissioners of the new UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission for Iraq.

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