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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-08-10

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:


Monday, 10 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 expresses alarm at deteriorating situation in Kosovo and its implications for region.
  • Secretary-General appoints Issa Diallo as his new Special Representative for Angola.
  • All international staff in strife-torn eastern provinces of Democratic Republic of the Congo are evacuated.
  • Chairman of Panel of Eminent Persons meets with Secretary- General following recent visit to Algeria.
  • Expert from Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination says slavery persists in Haiti.
  • World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth discusses suffering caused by war.

The situation in Kosovo continues to deteriorate, raising alarm about the implications for regional security, according to a new report by Secretary- General Kofi Annan which was released on Monday.

The Secretary-General reports that heavy fighting has increased between the security forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). "The numbers of civilian and military casualties are at their highest point since the outbreak of the fighting," he observes, adding, "The attitudes of the two sides appear to be hardening with every day of fighting."

The Secretary-General expresses concern about the continuing infiltration of weapons and fighting men from outside the borders of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. "The sharp escalation of violence and the reported use of excessive force by security forces against civilians as part of the government operations against the KLA are cause for both distress and alarm."

The situation is aggravated by the failure of the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Albanian Kosovars to enter into serious negotiations on the future status of Kosovo, the Secretary- General states. He warns that the conflict has dangerous implications for the stability of the region. "Given the responsibilities of the United Nations in the wider region and the ethnic makeup in neighbouring countries, I cannot but express my alarm at this prospect."

According to the report, the unrelenting violence has led to a dramatic increase in internally displaced persons in Kosovo and Montenegro, with more than 100,000 people driven from their homes. The Secretary-General warns that as local food production has come to a standstill, food shortages could worsen sharply. "With the increasing number of displaced persons and the approaching winter, Kosovo has the potential of becoming a humanitarian disaster."

The Secretary-General reports that United Nations agencies are working to forestall a crisis, but donors have only pledged a small portion of the funds needed for the effort.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed a new Special Representative for Angola.

Issa B.Y. Diallo, presently Director of the Division of Conference Services at the United Nations Office at Geneva, was appointed to his new post on Friday afternoon.

Mr. Diallo, who is a career diplomat, joined the Cabinet of the Secretary- General in 1982, where he served for 10 years as Director and Special Adviser on African Affairs to former Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar.

Before joining the United Nations Secretariat, Mr. Diallo, a national of the Republic of Guinea, was Deputy-Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guinea from 1963 to 1968.

All international staff in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been evacuated, according to a United Nations spokesman.

The last group of staff members of the United Nations and non- governmental organizations who had been stranded in Goma as a result of fighting in that region, have been evacuated to Rwanda, Spokesman Juan Carlos Brandt said on Monday.

The fighting between the rebels and government forces in the country flared up in recent weeks forcing people to flee their homes.

Last week the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Secretary-General appealed to all sides to refrain from acts of persecution, harassment or discrimination against any segment of the Congolese population.

The Chairman of the Secretary-General's Panel of Eminent Persons has reported to him on the Panel's recent trip to Algeria.

Chairman Mario Soares, the former President of Portugal, met with Secretary- General Kofi Annan in Lisbon on Saturday. According to the Secretary- General's Spokesman, the Panel's report would be released later this month.

"Let me say how grateful I am to former President Soares for having taken on such a delicate and sensitive mission," the Secretary-General told reporters in Portugal. "That mission was able to talk to many more people [and] visit many more sites, including prisons [and] sites of massacres that other previous visitors had not been able to." The Secretary-General expressed appreciation to Mr. Soares, saying, "it took courage, it took imagination and leadership, and he demonstrated all of that."

On Monday, the Secretary-General met with the Foreign Minister of Togo, Kofi Panou. They discussed the recent elections in Togo. The Secretary- General then went to the Portuguese Foreign Ministry, where he met with Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama. "Their discussion centred on Guinea- Bissau, East Timor and Angola," said the Secretary- General's Spokesman, Juan Carlos Brandt.

Also while in Portugal, on Saturday the Secretary-General had discussed the status of peace talks on East Timor with Nobel Laureates Bishop Ximenes Belo and Jose Ramos-Horta.

An expert on the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Monday said that slavery still persists in Haiti.

Committee expert Carlos Lechuga Hevia spoke as the Committee examined Haiti's compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Mr. Lechuga Hevia said that slavery was still practiced in Haiti, with some 300,000 children as victims of this practice. Those children were subjected to work for long hours and without proper food, he added.

Mr. Lechuga Hevia painted a picture of Haiti's economic situation, stating that around 41 per cent of the country's riches was held by one per cent of the population. Although 95 per cent of the population was of African descent, Whites dominated economically and in social spheres, leaving the majority of the population to suffer from poverty. Those of African descent suffered discrimination. The 1987 Constitution did not specifically prohibit discrimination based on race or sex and only provided for equal opportunity for work and equality of sex, he said.

Committee Chairperson Mahmoud Aboul-Nasr said that Haiti had been requested to send a representative to the meeting but had so far not responded. The last time the Committee considered a report of Haiti was in August 1990, also without the participation of a representative of the State. As one of the 150 States parties to the International Convention, Haiti must submit reports on its efforts to implement the treaty.

Officials addressing the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth on Monday described the harmful effects that armed conflicts have on young people.

Bozidar Pugelnik, the Minister for Education and Sports of Croatia, said the war in his country had deprived innocent young people of their youth, in many cases, their families, homes, friends and loved ones.

The Secretary for Youth and Sports and head of Palestine's delegation, Ahmed T.H. Alyazji stressed the importance of the rights of youth subjected to wars, armed conflict and foreign occupation. Generations of Palestinian young people had known nothing other than Israeli occupation, and had paid a very high price for many injustices, he said.

The Minister for Youth and Sports of Angola, Jose da Rocha S. de Castro, said the devastating impact of war had made it difficult for Angola to satisfy the fair aspirations of its young people. Today, there were more than 80,000 orphan children in Angola and more than 100,000 disabled people, many of them young. In response, the Government had established policies focusing on the use of free time, the promotion and support of youth associations, and the study of youth problems.

Addressing the Conference on Sunday, the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, Dr. Nafis Sadik, drew attention to the problems of the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among young people and sexual violence. She stressed that reproductive health was universally accepted as a human right, and praised the Lisbon Conference for making excellent progress in extending that right to adolescents.

The Director for External Relations of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Sally Cowal, noted that young people were bombarded with contradictory information. On the one hand, they were told to be abstinent while on the other, they were targeted by advertisements using sex to sell goods. In some cases, young people were denied services and information on sexuality, even though sexual education programmes had been found to delay the age of first sexual encounter. Approximately 100 million people became sexually active each year, and one third of the world's 30 million persons infected with HIV were youth, she pointed out.

The five-day Conference brings together representatives of some 160 nations -- more than 100 at the ministerial-level -- to find ways of responding more effectively to the needs of young people. The Conference, which began on Saturday, is expected to adopt a declaration by which governments will commit to strengthening national policies to benefit youth.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

From the United Nations home page at <> - email:

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