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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-03-30

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

Thursday, March 30, 2000

ANNAN NAMES ENVOY ON DROUGHT IN HORN OF AFRICA

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has decided to appoint Catherine Bertini, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), as his Special Envoy on the Drought in the Greater Horn of Africa. Bertini will travel to the region (Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Kenya) following her meetings with the Secretary-General. The visit is scheduled for April 11-19.

WFP estimates that 12.4 million people in seven countries in the Greater Horn of Africa are facing a humanitarian crisis of serious proportions. They are at risk of food insecurity or famine due to prolonged drought.

Bertini's visit to the region is aimed at raising awareness of the deteriorating situation and the growing threat of famine.

ANNAN TO LAUNCH MILLENNIUM REPORT ON MONDAY

The Secretary-General will launch on Monday, April 3, a report on his vision for the United Nations. The report is entitled "We the Peoples: The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century." It is expected to be discussed at the Millennium Summit of the United Nations to be held in September in New York.

On Friday at 11 a.m., there will a background briefing by a senior UN official about the report at UN headquarters. Press kits with copies of the report embargoed until Monday, April 3 at 10 a.m. in New York will be made available at the briefing.

The Secretary-General will present the Millennium Report to the General Assembly at 10 a.m. Monday, and at 10:45 a.m., he will hold a press conference at UN headquarters. The press conference will be simultaneously broadcast in several cities worldwide but will be officially launched in New York.

There will be no noon briefing on Monday.

SECURITY COUNCIL VISITS WASHINGTON

There is no meeting of the Security Council today.

Instead, the 15 Ambassadors on the Security Council, acting in their personal capacities, all are participating in a day-long visit to Washington, D.C. This morning, they met at the U.S. State Department with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering.

At 2 p.m. today, they are scheduled to hold a public meeting with the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Senator Jesse Helms; that meeting will be the only public one on the members' schedule.

Then, at about 4:30, they are to leave for the White House, where they will be briefed by Jim Steinberg, the Acting Director of the U.S. National Security Council.

On Friday, the Security Council will meet with the Secretary-General to wrap up its work for the month of March in closed consultations. Before that meeting, the Council expects to hold a formal meeting to vote on a draft resolution concerning oil spare parts and equipment for Iraq.

Asked what it meant that the Council members were acting in their personal capacities, the Spokesman explained that each was travelling individually rather than in their official capacity as members of the Security Council. The United Nations was not paying for the trip, he noted, since the Ambassadors would pay for their travel to and from Washington while the U.S. Government would pay for all expenses during their stay.

EAST TIMOR ADMINISTRATOR MEETS INDONESIAN PRESIDENT

UN Transitional Administrator in East Timor Sergio Vieira de Mello met today with Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid in Jakarta. They discussed a Memorandum of Understanding on judicial cooperation between Indonesia and the UN Mission, which was also the focus of discussions between de Mello and Indonesian Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono Wednesday.

On Wednesday, a member of the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) was killed in Maubisse during a fight that broke out with a group of ex-militia.

Nine former militia members were engaged in a reconciliation program run by the National Council, in which they performed community service before being re-integrated into the local community.

For reasons that are unclear, one group of ex-militia working in fields fought with the CNRT members overseeing them. During the struggle, one CNRT man was killed and three others were injured. One former militia member was also hurt.

The local population captured eight of the ex-militia, but a ninth member, believed to have killed the CNRT member, is still at large. UN civilian police and troops are looking for him.

This is the first such violent incident reported since the reconciliation program began. More than 100 former militia members have completed the program successfully, and been integrated into local communities.

UN MISSION DISARMS FIGHTERS AFTER SIERRA LEONE CLASHES

Today the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) disarmed 60 rebel fighters who had been involved in clashes with other rebel factions for the past ten days near Kabala in northern Sierra Leone.

A team of 21 UN military observers has spent the past several days negotiating an end to the fighting, and two platoons of the Kenyan battalions are now in the region monitoring the situation. Last night about 350 people came out of the bush, among them 60 rebel fighters, 180 women and children members of their families, and 110 people who had been held captive by the rebels.

A convoy of 60 Gurkhas from the Quick Reaction Company left Freetown today to bring back the disarmed combatants and their families. The abductees are being cared for in Kabala.

On Wednesday, a young armed rebel came to the UN Mission headquarters in Freetown, asking to join the disarmament program. The fighter told UN staff that he had escaped from his commander who he said was not permitting his soldiers to disarm, in northern Sierra Leone. He was frightened, and said that, had he been caught while he escaped, his commander would have had him executed. He was taken to the nearest disarmament center.

UN SUSPENDS OPERATIONS AFTER PLANE FIRED ON IN SOMALIA

A UN aircraft, carrying a pilot and three international staff members working for UNICEF, was fired upon at the Kismayo airport in Somalia this morning, and as a result, all UN air and ground operations in the area have been suspended until further notice. [Nobody was injured in the shooting. The pilot completed the flight mission and took off, eventually landing in the south-central town of Baidoa.]

There has been widespread insecurity in and around Kismayo for several years. Kismayo, some 425 kilometers southwest of the capital Mogadishu, has been the scene of intermittent clan-based fighting for control since former president Mohammed Siad Barre was deposed in January 1991.

TRIP BY WESTERN SAHARA ENVOY SCHEDULED FOR APRIL

The trip by the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Western Sahara, James Baker, to the region will be held from April 8-11. He is to visit Algiers and Tindouf on Saturday, April 8, before arriving in Rabat, Morocco, on the following day. On Tuesday, April 11, he is to visit Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, before departing from the region later that day.

He is to meet with officials from the Moroccan, Algerian and Mauritanian Governments and from the Polisario Front.

In his last report on the Western Sahara, the Secretary-General declared his intention to send Baker to the region to hold talks with all parties in an effort to achieve an early, durable and agreed resolution of their dispute.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

In response to complaints about smoking in the South Lounge, the Spokesman noted that UN management would propose building a well-ventilated smoking room at the basement level. Signs will be posted elsewhere in the building strongly discouraging smoking, he said, but the United Nations does not have the General Assembly's authority to ban it outright.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), in a press release regarding the impact on children caught in the North Caucasus conflict, said it welcomes the visit by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, to Chechnya over the weekend. UNICEF said it has communicated to her its concerns about children and added that it was very hopeful that Robinson's efforts to draw attention to the plight of the affected population would result in renewed actions on their behalf.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) issued a press release concerning the meeting of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), at UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi from April 9-20. (For further information, see www.cites.org.)

The International Court of Justice, in a press release, announced the program of public hearings on a dispute between India and Pakistan concerning the shooting down of a Pakistani plane last August. The first round of oral arguments will begin next Monday, April 3.

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  • The guest at today's briefing was Carolyn McAskie, the Acting Emergency Relief Coordinator, who made the announcement of the Secretary-General's Special Envoy on the Drought in the Greater Horn of Africa as well as the situation in Angola.

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