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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-03-21
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FRED ECKHARD
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, March 21, 2000
ANNAN CONDEMNS MASSACRE IN KASHMIR
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement read by the Spokesman, expressed his outrage over the reported massacre of 36 Sikhs in a village on the Indian side of the Line of Control in Kashmir, and extended his condolences to the families of the victims.
The Secretary-General reiterated his condemnation of all terrorist acts. "The Secretary-General believes that this most recent terrorist incident in Kashmir is a reminder of the need for a political solution to this long-standing dispute," Eckhard said.
SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS BRIEFINGS ON EAST TIMOR, TAJIKISTAN
The Security Council this morning began its work with closed consultations on Tajikistan, to work out language for a Presidential Statement that could be read once the open briefing on Tajikistan concludes.
The Council then went into the first of two open briefings by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hédi Annabi, to hear about the latest developments in East Timor.
He said that economic and social conditions remain the primary concern in East Timor, with high unemployment and high prices continuing. The UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) has undertaken 18 "quick-impact" projects to repair local infrastructure and paid more than 2,500 civil servants at the end of last month.
Annabi said that the number of major law and order incidents has declined, adding that close to 300 murder cases -- mostly involving crimes that occurred between April and September of last year -- are under investigation.
After some incursions across the border from West Timor earlier this month, he noted, the Indonesian authorities provided assurances that "stern action would be taken against militia activity," including military training near refugee camps. Meanwhile, the UN peacekeeping force now stands at 7,310 troops, with total troop strength by the end of March expected to reach 8,600.
This afternoon, Annabi will deliver an open briefing on Tajikistan, which focused on the Secretary-General's recent report on the successful holding of multi-party elections there and the winding down of the work of the UN Mission, which will end its mandate on May 15. At the end of that session, the Council will adopt a Presidential Statement on Tajikistan.
On Wednesday, the Council will hear another open briefing, on the work of the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
UN PANEL ON PEACE OPERATIONS TO MEET TODAY
The inaugural meeting of the panel named by the Secretary-General to study all aspects of peace operations will take place this afternoon, starting at 3:30 in the Deputy Secretary-General's conference room. The 10-member panel is chaired by Special Envoy of the Secretary-General Lakhdar Brahimi.
In announcing the panel, the Secretary-General noted the need for recommendations to improve UN activities in peace and security.
The panel will also meet on Wednesday.
Asked whether Brahimi would speak to the press afterward, the Spokesman said that he would wait for the panel, which was just starting, to proceed further with its work before he did so.
PEACEKEEPING HEAD COMPLETES VISIT TO SIERRA LEONE
Bernard Miyet, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, is now in Bamako, Mali where he is scheduled to meet with President Alpha Oumar Konaré. Before leaving Sierra Leone, earlier today, Mr. Miyet met with non-governmental organizations and heads of UN agencies represented in that country, and also gave a press conference. On Monday, he met with former rebel leaders Johnny Paul Koroma and Foday Sankoh. He also participated in a follow-up meeting to the meeting held in Bamako earlier this month.
Participants at Monday's meeting, chaired by Lansana Kouyate, the Executive Secretary of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), reaffirmed the need for unhindered access by UN peacekeepers and gave a deadline of two weeks for the road blocks to be removed.
Miyet will leave Mali for New York tonight, the Spokesman added.
TALKS ON KHMER ROUGE TRIAL CONTINUE IN CAMBODIA
UN talks with Cambodia over the terms of a Khmer Rouge trial continued today, but neither side commented to the press. The two sides held a full morning session and a working dinner.
On Wednesday morning, the UN team, headed by Legal Counsel Hans Corell, will meet with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen before departing for New York. Corell is expected to talk to the press after that meeting.
The Cambodian Government asked the United Nations to advise it on how to make a Cambodian trial of the Khmer Rouge acceptable by international standards. These talks are thought to be the final ones before the Cambodian Parliament takes up legislation to define the parameters of a trial.
REPORT OF GROUP OF EXPERTS ON IRAQI OIL INDUSTRY RELEASED
On Monday afternoon, the Office of the Iraq Programme published on its website the report of the Group of Experts that went to Iraq in January to examine the current state of the Iraqi oil industry.
The report reflects the combination of expertise by the six-member group and the cooperation the team received from the Ministry of Oil.
They analyzed the impact of holds on Iraq's production capacity and also indicated efforts by the Office of the Iraq Programme to have the holds lifted.
The experts argue that too little essential equipment is arriving in Iraq to provide a solution to the daily crises experienced by the oil industry. At present, there is an investment of 60 cents per barrel of oil, compared to the Middle East average of around $1.50 per barrel for operating expenditures.
CROATIA TRANSFERS WAR CRIMES SUSPECT TO TRIBUNAL
This morning, Mladen Nalelitlic, also known as "Tuta", was transported from Zagreb into the custody of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. His transfer had been delayed due to health problems. However, following an examination by an independent medical team last month, he was deemed fit to travel under appropriate medical supervision.
Between April 1993 and January 1994, Bosnian Muslim prisoners were interned in a detention centre under the command of Naletilic and his co-accused, Vinko Martinovic. The indictment against them alleges that the detainees were repeatedly tortured by the two suspects and their subordinates. It is also alleged that detainees were taken to the confrontation lines to be used as human shields and to perform dangerous military support tasks benefiting the army of the Republic of Croatia (HV) and the Croatian Defence Council (HVO).
The two co-accused are charged with crimes against humanity, violations of the laws or customs of war and grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
REPORT NOTES FUTURE NEED FOR MIGRATION TO DEVELOPED NATIONS
This morning, the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs released a report on "Replacement Migration," on which subject the Population Division's Director, Joseph Chamie, gave a press briefing.
The report notes that, according to the medium variant of UN population projections, population size in Japan and nearly all the countries in Europe is expected to decrease over the next 50 years. Some countries -- including Bulgaria, Estonia and Italy -- could decline by between a quarter and a third of current population levels, according to projections.
The report says that in the future, high levels of migration to those countries would be needed to offset population ageing, entailing vastly more immigration than in the past. Italy, Japan and the Republic of Korea would particularly need higher levels of immigration to offset population decline.
NEED FOR MORE FOOD ASSISTANCE LIKELY IN ETHIOPIA
Food needs for people threatened by famine in the Horn of Africa may very well exceed the original estimates of 836,000 metric tons originally requested by the United Nations. It is estimated that more than eight million people are at risk due to the famine in Ethiopia, of which 2.3 million people are at immediate risk. Ethiopia has been in drought condition for about three years, and rains continue to be been erratic.
Last January the UN Country Team in Ethiopia issued a $190 million appeal to address the needs of some 7.7 million drought-affected and 350,000 war-affected persons.
The World Food Programme (WFP) last month allotted emergency aid of $137 million to help the estimated 2.3 million people at immediate risk
UNHCR REPORTS NEW FLOW OF DISPLACED CHECHENS
Today, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported an increase in the number of people fleeing Chechnya into Ingushetia.
Ingushetia now hosts 214,0000 people displaced from Chechnya, up from 185,000 registered just two weeks ago. On Monday, 500 newly-displaced persons arrived, fleeing continued fighting. Today, another UNHCR convoy arrived in Nazran, the capital of Ingushetia, bringing 15 trucks carrying food and medicine.
UN DISPUTES REPORTS OF EAST TIMOR MIGRATION TO WEST TIMOR
A story published yesterday in the "Jakarta Post", which claimed that 10,000 East Timorese have returned to West Timor over the last month, was challenged this morning by the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Government of West Timor and UNTAET's office in Kupang, West Timor, have all reported there is no evidence of any such movement of people from East to West Timor.
More than 153,000 refugees have returned to East Timor since repatriation began in October.
The security threat in four districts in East Timor was downgraded yesterday by UNTAET Force Commander Lt. Gen. Jaime de los Santos.
In the whole of Sector West, which includes the two border districts of Maliana and Suai, the threat has been lowered from "high" to "medium". In Sector Central, Ermera dropped from "high" to "medium", while in Ainaro, the threat was reduced from "medium" to "low". The enclave of Oecussi remains at a medium threat level, while the rest of the country is graded as low-threat.
On Monday, tax collection began in East Timor. The new tax regime covers imports, exports and domestically produced goods. Importers now have to pay duty of five percent of the customs value of their goods. Humanitarian relief supplies are exempt from tax.
TASK FORCE REPORTS ON DEPLETED URANIUM USE IN KOSOVO
The Balkans Task Force (BTF) issued a press release today on the use by NATO of depleted uranium ordnance in the Kosovo conflict.
Some 31,000 rounds of depleted uranium ammunition were used by NATO throughout Kosovo in over 100 flying missions.
More information is needed on the exact location of the depleted uranium ordnance to carry out a comprehensive, objective and scientifically-based environmental and human health impact assessment in Kosovo, the BTF concludes in its press release.
However, where the location of depleted uranium ammunition is known and contamination has been confirmed, measures should be taken to prevent access, the BTF emphasizes.
Asked about the Secretary-General's response to the report, the Spokesman said that more work needs to be done before the scientific facts on the effects of depleted uranium are established. Until then, he said, the Secretary-General would not comment.
After the briefing, the Spokesman said, in response to a question, said that there is no international convention that deals directly with the use of depleted uranium.
Asked about the Monday meeting between the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy to Iraq, Prakash Shah, the Spokesman said that the two held a private meeting and also reviewed Shah's mandate and work. Shah continues to be a Special Envoy, Eckhard said, although he is no longer based in Baghdad. The Monday meeting reviewed his work in light of the creation of the new UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC).
In a press release issued today, Carol Bellamy, the Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), says that, one year after the start of NATO air strikes, the children of Yugoslavia remain the most endangered in Europe. She calls for an end to ethnic hatred and violence that casts a shadow over the young generation.
With the arrival of a new French Ambassador to the United Nations, Jean-David Levitte, who presented his credentials to the Secretary-General Monday, the Spokesman's Office has prepared an updated list of Security Council members. Ambassador Levitte replaces Ambassador Alain Dejammet.
The symposium of the representatives of Somali civil society started today in Djibouti, to help prepare for the Somalia National Peace Conference. About 60 representatives of civil society are meeting in their personal capacities and are expected to contribute to the implementation of the Djibouti peace initiative, as outlined by President Ismail Omar Guelleh.
Spain has become the 73rd Member State to pay its dues to the UN regular budget in full for the year 2000, with a payment of just over $27 million.
The UN Correspondents Association (UNCA) announced that it would host the new Ambassador of Pakistan, Shamshad Ahmad, for a briefing in the UNCA Club this afternoon at 3:30.
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