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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-02-02

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

DAILY HIGHLIGHTS

Monday, 2 February 1998


This daily news round-up is prepared by the Central News Section of the Department of Public Information. The latest update is posted at approximately 6:00 PM New York time.

HEADLINES

  • Secretary-General recommends a $3.2 billion increase in the amount of oil Iraq can sell for humanitarian relief.
  • World Bank says despite strides in poverty reduction, over a billion people live on less than $1 a day.
  • World Food Programme signs rail agreement to speed-up delivery of food to Great Lakes Region.


Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended that the Security Council allow Iraq to increase its oil revenues from $2 billion over six months to $5.2 billion for the same period. This recommendation was made in the light of Iraq's urgent humanitarian needs. The oil revenues will be used to finance humanitarian relief for Iraq, including more food and medical supplies for the country's population. The United Nations Children's Fund estimates that some 25 per cent of all Iraqi children are suffering from malnutrition. "Basically what we are trying to improve is the calorie intake for the Iraqi population from about 2,000 to about 2,450 kilocalories per person per day," Secretary-General Kofi Annan told reporters on Monday. "We are increasing the amount of medicine that we are sending in, and we are also trying to work with them to improve the agricultural output, particularly in the areas of protein and the production of eggs, to give them better food content." The report also emphasizes the needs of young children, calling, among other measures, for more funding to support an additional 1,500 community childcare centres. The Secretary-General is also recommending a one-time expenditure of some $450 million to refurbish the country's health infrastructure which, he says, is in a "terrible state" of disrepair. "We believe that if we do not repair these infrastructure facilities, the impact will be to undermine all the good we are trying to do by bringing in additional supplies." The Secretary-General told reporters that the Iraqi authorities had not cooperated in preparing the new programme to the extent that he had expected. "We did get lots of informal inputs and had informal contacts, but no formal reaction from the authorities." The Secretary-General spoke to the press after briefing the Security Council on his new recommendations. He said he had shared the concern of the Council members about mounting tensions caused by Iraq's refusal to comply with United Nations weapons inspections. "The Iraqi leadership must understand that if it wants sanctions to be ended, and to see light at the end of the tunnel, Iraq must comply fully." Mr. Annan expressed his sincere hope that diplomatic efforts towards that end would succeed, adding that "failure risks another round of devastating military action which may have unpredictable military consequences". The oil-for-food programme now in place, known as "Phase II", authorizes Iraq to sell only $2 billion worth of oil through May. The Secretary-General is recommending that the new $5.2 billion programme take effect in March.
The World Bank has said that despite huge strides in poverty reduction over the past forty years, 1.3 billion people live on less than $1 a day and almost 3 billion on less than $2 a day. In a report, Poverty Reduction and the World Bank: Progress in Fiscal 1996 and 1997, released in Washington on Monday, the Bank outlines its strategy for better monitoring, assessment and inclusion of low-income people who benefit from projects and programmes it assists. The World Bank reaffirms the central importance of poverty reduction and the urgent need to narrow the wide disparities between rich and poor. The report also says that despite overall improvements in such indicators as life expectancy, new sources of concern have arisen. In many countries certain groups are socially excluded and benefit little from the overall growth process. The report points out that bringing these people into the socioeconomic mainstream is the key to achieving sustainable growth in developing countries. According to the report, although overall trends in developing country show significant progress in poverty reduction, by region the results are mixed. In East Asia, for example, there was enormous progress in the past which saw the number of poor falling from 719 million in 1975 to 346 million in 1995. That progress is likely to stall in the wake of the financial crisis in the region. Poverty has declined in the Middle East and North Africa and parts of South Asia. In India, while the incidence of poverty has fallen, the absolute numbers of poor people continue to rise. The report says that in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, both the incidence and the absolute numbers of the poor have arisen. The World Bank says that in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the people remain among the poorest in the world, the incidence of poverty continues to be high.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has signed an agreement with Kenya Railways Corporation to facilitate delivery of food aid to the Great Lakes Region in Africa. The United Nations food agency announced on Monday that the $1.3 million agreement will enable delivery of food aid faster and more cheaply. The agreement was signed by Mike Sackett, WFP's Regional Manager for the Horn of Africa and Country Director for Kenya and Erick Nyamunga, Managing Director of the Kenya Railways. Under the agreement, WFP will provide parts to refurbish 10 locomotives on the Mombasa-Kampala line. WFP will be able to load food shipments directly onto freight cars at the port of Mombasa, saving almost $7,000 a day in storage costs. WFP transports monthly 9,000 metric tonnes of food aid from Mombasa to Kampala to feed 850,000 people a month.
For information purposes only - - not an official record

From the United Nations home page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org


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