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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-03-22

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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

Wednesday, March 22, 2000

UN TEAM LEAVES CAMBODIA AFTER MEETING PRIME MINISTER

United Nations Legal Counsel Hans Corell and his team concluded a week-long series of meetings with Cambodian officials this morning with a session with Prime Minister Hun Sen.

While no final agreement on the terms for a Khmer Rouge trial was announced, both sides expressed satisfaction on the degree of agreement achieved and expressed hope that, before the Cambodian legislation is adopted by Parliament next month, the remaining gaps can be closed.

Corell told the press after the meeting with Hun Sen that he had given the Government a comprehensive proposal containing all aspects of the matters that they had been discussing. He praised the cooperative spirit with which the Cambodian Government had conducted the negotiations.

The team is now in the air, and it will arrive in New York on Thursday.

PANEL ON UN PEACE OPERATIONS ENDS FIRST SESSION

The Secretary-General's panel on United Nations Peace Operations, chaired by Lakhdar Brahimi, ended its first session today, after meeting for more than three hours Tuesday.

They also held a working lunch with the Secretary-General today.

In response to a question, the Spokesman said he would ask Brahimi to talk to the press, but cautioned that the chairman wanted to wait until the panel completes more work before he would speak.

SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS OPEN BRIEFING ON BOSNIA

The Security Council this morning began its work with closed consultations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in which it considered an interim report on the situation there.

Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations H&eacute;di Annabi informed the Council of resurgent fighting in the DRC, particularly in the province of Kasai. The Council then issued a statement to the press after its consultations concluded.

The Council will also hear a more detailed briefing on the DRC next Tuesday, when Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bernard Miyet is scheduled to discuss his just-concluded visit there.

The Council then went into a formal session to hear an open briefing on the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Annabi discussed the Secretary-General's recent report on Bosnia, which includes signs of progress in the Mission's work, notably the inauguration of a multi-ethnic police force in the Brcko district and some positive movement on a State Border Service.

However, obstruction and resistance to the establishment of joint police forces is still evident in Central Bosnia, and particularly in Mostar, Annabi said.

The Council will hold an open debate Thursday on the role played by UN peacekeepers in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. That debate follows the issuance last month of a report by the Secretary-General on how UN missions can support disarmament goals.

In response to a question on UN reactions following the Security Council's statement to the press reflecting its concern about the deployment of UN troops in the DRC, the Spokesman noted that Miyet had commented in Paris that, although the Council had given a green light to that deployment, the light could change to orange or even red. He said that the Council would follow developments in the DRC closely, adding, "If it is not safe, if hostilities resume, we know from past experience that's no place to send peacekeepers."

IRAQ OFFICE REPORTS 13.9 MILLION BARRELS OF OIL EXPORTS LAST WEEK

The regular weekly update from the Office of the Iraq Programme, issued today, reported that Iraq last week exported 13.9 million barrels of oil. Also, the Office noted, $1.74 billion dollars worth of contracts remain on hold.

On Friday, the Security Council will consider in an open briefing the Secretary-General's recent report reviewing the "oil-for-food" program and on the findings of the Group of Experts on Iraq's oil industry.

WFP, GOVERNMENT UPDATE APPEALS ON MOZAMBIQUE FLOODS

Today the Government of Mozambique appealed to the international community for an additional $102 million for emergency and rehabilitation activities directed at 650,000 flood victims in the provinces of Maputo, Gaza, Sofala, Inhambane, Manica and Tete. This appeal, which updates the requirements set forth by the Government and the United Nations on February 23, covers the period through August 2000.

The World Food Programme (WFP) today launched a new special appeal for $8.4 million for air transport to deliver food to flood victims through April.

WFP's top priority remains reaching and feeding an estimated 650,000 people, both those who are still in camps throughout South and Central Mozambique, and those who have returned to their homes.

UN WELCOMES DISCUSSIONS IN LIBERIA OVER CLOSED RADIO STATIONS

President Charles Taylor of Liberia has accepted to open discussions with two radio stations, whose operations were suspended last week, and he has given instructions to members of his Government to this effect. His decision came following a meeting he held Tuesday with religious leaders on the dispute, at which Felix Downes-Thomas, the Representative of the Secretary-General, was present. Since the start of the dispute, Downes-Thomas has been intensely involved in the consultations that led to the decision by President Taylor, and he welcomes that decision.

ACCIDENTAL EXPLOSION KILLS THREE CHILDREN IN EAST TIMOR

Three boys were killed and a fourth was seriously injured following the accidental explosion Tuesday of an artillery or mortar shell near the East Timorese city of Baucau.

Two boys, aged 10 and nine, died instantly, while the third, aged four, died this morning at the Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital in Baucau. The fourth boy, who is 13, suffered serious abdominal and head injuries.

The boys were playing near an old Indonesian Army building when they found the shell and threw rocks at it, setting off the detonator.

This is the first incident of its kind since the multinational force arrived in East Timor last September.

The number of refugees returning from West Timor is on the rise, the Office of the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports. Four hundred and fifty crossed the border on Monday and 300 more crossed on Tuesday, while today 500 arrived by sea from Kupang and another 400 crossed the border at Batugade.

This brings the total number of returnees to about 155,000. The Indonesian Government is currently conducting a census to verify estimates that more than 100,000 refugees are still in West Timor.

Autopsies performed on the bodies of two nuns and two other victims of the Los Palos massacre reveal all four were shot and cut with knives. Eight people died at the hands of the Team Alpha militia last September 25. Autopsies on all eight bodies have now been completed, showing the same gun shot and knife wounds in each case.

The Human Rights Division of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor, along with UN civilian police, will exhume 10 bodies in Maliana, on Thursday. All are believed to be the victims of last September's violence.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Asked if the Secretary-General would visit South Asia, the Spokesman said the trip "has been planned and re-planned," but noted that different schedules had not been found acceptable to all sides. The Secretary-General still intends to travel to the region, but has not set any dates for a trip, he said.

In response to a question, the Spokesman confirmed that the Secretary-General was meeting today with Hans Blix, the Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the Ambassadors of the Russian Federation and France. The meeting, he said, was one of a series of consultations the Secretary-General was having on implementing the latest Security Council resolution on Iraq.

To mark World Water Day, Klaus Topfer, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) today delivered the closing statement at the World Water Forum in The Hague, on behalf of the Secretary-General. He said, "Water has been a major factor in the rise and fall of civilizations. It has been a source of conflicts and tensions between nations." He added, "Nearly every decision we make -- whether the issue is growth, housing, transportation or economic development -- is directly linked to the use of our water resources."

An updated background note on United Nations Peacekeeping Operations as of March 20, now available, reflects the completion of the UN Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH), whose mandate expired on March 15. The note indicates that there are currently 15 UN Peacekeeping Operations around the world, where close to 27,000 military and civilian police personnel are deployed.

At 10 a.m. Thursday in the Economic and Social Council Chamber, four leading experts dealing with information technology will discuss means to use the Internet and other technology to further the cause of development. The three-hour panel will begin with opening remarks from Ambassador Makarim Wibisono of Indonesia, the President of the current session of the Economic and Social Council. It is one of several events leading up to the Council's high-level meeting on information technology from July 5-7 in New York.

Parties to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes will meet from March 23-25 in The Hague. Among the main agenda items are the issue of responsibility and liability for cleaning up damage caused by water pollution.

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