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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-08-07
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, 7 August, 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.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan has strongly condemned the two terrorist attacks carried out in Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania on Friday.
"The Secretary-General was outraged and appalled to hear of today's bomb explosions in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam, which have resulted in a heavy toll of dead and wounded," his Spokesman, Juan Carlos Brandt, told reporters in New York.
"He condemns utterly this heartless and indiscriminate terrorism against innocent civilians, and extends his deep condolences to the families and governments concerned," Mr. Brandt continued.
The Secretary-General said he was concerned to learn that several United Nations staff members were injured in the two explosions, and expressed hope that they would rapidly and fully recover.
"The Secretary-General reiterates his adamant condemnation of all terrorist acts, whatever their objective," Mr. Brandt stressed.
The United Nations did not release the names or nationalities of its injured staff members, but did say that one had been working for the United Nations Industrial Development in Nairobi. "All United Nations offices at the city centre have been closed and the staff of those offices have been sent home and advised to avoid the downtown area," said Mr. Brandt.
In Dar-es-Salaam, Mr. Brandt reported that the injured staff had been working in the offices of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), both of which are located near the United States embassy. "The doors apparently were blown off and glass shattered all over the place in the two offices," Mr. Brandt said.
The Secretary-General, reporting "no improvement in the already deplorable situation in Angola," has recommended a one-month extension for the United Nations Mission of Observers in Angola (MONUA).
In a report to the Security Council released on Friday, the Secretary- General warned that the risk of full-scale hostilities had significantly increased. He urged the Government of Angola and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) to refrain from any steps which would further exacerbate the situation. Mr. Annan called on the Government, particularly UNITA, to renew their efforts toward national reconciliation, to cease the exchange of threats and war rhetoric, and to immediately initiate confidence-building measures.
"I am most disturbed by the failure of UNITA to demobilize fully its forces and to facilitate the extension of state administration throughout the country," the Secretary-General stated. He noted that despite past declarations to the contrary, UNITA had evidently maintained a significant military capability. On many occasions, UNITA "residual" troops had been identified as being responsible for attacks on villages and towns, as well as ambushes on major roads. There had also been incidents of selective killing and kidnapping aimed at intimidating the population and dissuading it from cooperating with government authorities, according to the report.
The Secretary-General emphasized that genuine dialogue would only be possible when the high-level UNITA representatives return to Luanda and participate constructively in the Joint Commission.
"The positive news from Angola is that the Joint Commission met today with the participation of Mr. Samakuva, the head of the UNITA delegation, who returned to Luanda yesterday from Andulo after an absence of two months," United Nations Spokesman Juan Carlos Brandt told reporters on Friday.
This move followed talks between the Secretary-General's Special Envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, according to Mr. Brandt. Mr. Brahimi had met with the President of Angola, Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, who had promised to stop the State media from disseminating hostile propaganda. "Since then, we are happy to see that there has been a reduction in the use of this damaging material by the Angolan media," Mr. Brandt said.
The Secretary-General's report reaffirmed the willingness of the United Nations to continue helping the Angolan people, provided there was an unequivocal commitment to a peaceful resolution of the crisis, based on the 1994 Lusaka Protocol.
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme was distributing emergency food aid to some 60,000 newly displaced Angolans. WFP representative Francesco Strippoli expressed fear that "there are many thousands more in areas we have been unable to reach because of the growing insecurity."
In addition to escalating conflict, Angola is suffering the effects of drought in the south and a meningitis epidemic among the displaced people, many of whom have been forced to flee for the second or third time in six years.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Friday estimated that continued fighting in western Kosovo has forced between 30, 000 to 50,000 ethnic Albanians to flee their homes, bringing the overall number of people uprooted in Kosovo to more than 200,000.
This figure includes about 150,000 displaced inside Kosovo, some 30,000 in Montenegro and more than 13,000 in Albania, according to UNHCR Spokesman Kris Janowski.
A UNHCR convoy of five trucks, which delivered relief supplies for people in the hills around Malisevo on Thursday, reported that houses were still burning in that town. "People who fled to the hills said that many villages in western Drenica have been emptied because of heavy shelling and that houses have been set on fire," Mr. Janowski told reporters in Geneva.
"We are very concerned about the situation of the tens of thousands of people, mostly women and children, out in the hills," he continued. UNHCR reported that houses in the area had been crammed with as many as 100 to 120 people. "Most of the people have been living in the open for more than a week with little food, little water and no sanitation facilities," Mr. Janowski said. Cases of dehydration among children have also been reported.
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) on Friday announced that during the coming weekend, it plans to make the first food deliveries to more than 50,000 ethnic Albanians trapped in forests near the border between Kosovo Province and Albania.
An estimated 25,000 displaced people -- mostly women and children - - have been trapped in the forests to the west of Dakovica along with some 30,000 residents of the area, according to WFP.
"As a result of battles in Malisevo and Orahovac, we expect to find large numbers of people are in urgent need of food and other relief assistance," said WFP official Robert Hauser. "We hope that if we can get through now, we will be able to make regular deliveries soon afterwards," he added.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has urged that all people caught up in the fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo receive equal protection.
High Commissioner Mary Robinson has been following the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with increasing concern, according to a statement she released on Friday. "I am aware that there have been reports of looting and burning of shops targeting certain segments of the population in Kinshasa," she said. "There are also indications that ethnically motivated violence is taking place in other parts of the country as the armed conflict spreads," Ms. Robinson added.
The High Commissioner stressed that the Government must extend equal protection to all persons under its jurisdiction, regardless of origin. She joined Secretary-General Kofi Annan in appealing to all sides to refrain from acts of persecution, harassment or discrimination against any segment of the population.
Ms. Robinson urged regional leaders to work towards finding a peaceful solution to the conflict, and to "impress upon all concerned the imperative of ensuring that the civilian population is protected from violence and that the human rights of all persons are fully respected."
Meanwhile, a group of 34 staff from the United Nations and non- governmental organization (NGOs) have been evacuated from Uvira, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. "They are now in Burundi, and are reported to be safe," said United Nations Spokesman Juan Carlos Brandt. He added that a number of United Nations staff members were still stranded in Bukavu and Goma.
Non-essential staff of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were relocated from the capital city, Kinshasa, on Thursday. Five international UNHCR staff remain there. A UNHCR spokesman told reporters in Geneva that the agency was taking "every possible measure" according to United Nations regulations to guarantee the safety of its local staff.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday congratulated Cambodians on their elections to the National Assembly, which were held on 26 July.
In particular, the Secretary-General congratulated the Cambodian people on the overwhelming turnout of voters, according to his Spokesman, Juan Carlos Brandt. "He notes with satisfaction that the polling process was primarily peaceful and orderly," Mr. Brandt said.
Through his Spokesman, the Secretary-General expressed hope that all political parties would resolve outstanding problems through dialogue and due process. "The objective should be the formation of a government that fully reflects the wish of the Cambodian people for reconciliation, pluralism and development," he concluded.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday urged young participants at the World Youth Forum in Braga, Portugal to take up the challenge of leading the world in the twenty-first century.
"By being here, all of you are showing that your generation can transcend narrow confines and think in much broader terms, and for that I would offer you my sincere congratulations," said Mr. Annan. "Many of you will take up real leadership positions throughout your lives in public service, in civil society and in the private sector," he said, adding that dedicated and talented individuals were needed in public service more than ever before.
The Secretary-General said that youth have an important task in working with governments. "I know that you can make a difference," he said. Giving an example of how people could help to tackle the world's problems, the Secretary-General cited the international campaign to ban landmines. In that case, 1,000 non-governmental organizations from 60 countries were linked by "one unbending conviction and one weapon that would ultimately prove more powerful than the landmine: the e-mail."
Young people with the skills to master the technology of the future and the energy to tackle the challenges of tomorrow are the spearhead of a new civil society, Mr. Annan stressed. He told the participants that he would pass along the results of their Forum to the upcoming World Conference of Ministers Responsible For Youth, which begins in Lisbon on Saturday, and they responded with sustained applause. Mr. Annan then commented, "This is wonderful -- you are making a contribution and you are enjoying making it. Keep it up! Keep it up!"
After an intensive week of meetings, collaboration and finally consensus, young people at the Forum adopted the Braga Youth Action Plan, which is designed to empower youth to participate in human development.
Geraldine Harris-Adams of UN Radio reported from Braga that the Plan calls for youth, non-governmental organizations and governments to increase their cooperation. It also stresses that the concerns of youth should be reflected in national policy-making. "The plan also recommends that the Secretary-General appoint a special rapporteur on youth rights by the end of 1999," reported Ms. Harris-Adams. Quoting from the Plan, she said, "On the threshold of a new millennium, young people are full of hope and commitment."
The United Nations has begun donating hundreds of obsolete computers to a special programme that restores them for low-income individuals in communities around New York and elsewhere in the United States.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is working with a group called the "Learning and Information for Community via Telecomputing (LINCT) Coalition," which trains volunteers to refurbish donated computers. Once the computers have been restored, they are used to train low-income people who need computer skills. After completing their courses, these people get to keep the computers they were trained on.
The programme is being carried out by the Ministerial Interfaith Association, which represents more than a hundred churches in Harlem and the South Bronx, plus a variety of schools, family-service agencies, public housing sites and community-based organizations.
"Of course, it is not only people who benefit," said United Nations Spokesman Juan Carlos Brandt. "This project also protects the environment by keeping all of those broken computers, equipment and pieces of unwanted glass and plastic out of landfills."
Given the importance of bringing developing countries up to speed in the computer age, UNDP is planning to expand the programme to Africa, Central America and Asia. Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretariat has released 1, 600 more computers for the project.
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