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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-08-14

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


Friday, 14 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.


  • United Nations Special Commission denies allegations that it has accepted external direction.
  • Human Rights Commissioner receives reports of ethnically-based harassment in Congo-Kinshasa.
  • Wife of staff member of World Health Organization died in bomb blast in Kenya.
  • Secretary-General reiterates confidence in head of refugee agency following a report of mismanagement.
  • United Nations refugee agency says it continues to identify refugees fleeing conflict in Kosovo.
  • United Nations refugee agency establishes presence in Guinea Bissau to assist refugees from Senegal.

The United Nations commission charged with overseeing the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction has denied allegations that it had accepted external direction in carrying out its tasks.

"These allegations are false'" the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) said in a statement on Friday. UNSCOM stressed that all policy decisions on its activities were taken by the Security Council but operational decisions were taken by its Executive Chairman, Ambassador Richard Butler.

UNSCOM said that consultations on policy matters took place regularly between the Executive Chairman and Council members but all operational decisions were taken by the Executive Chairman. The Commission said that the Chairman has not been given and would find it "invidious were any attempt made to direct his operational decisions or to micro-manage the day- to-day work of the Special Commission."

The statement of the Special Commission was issued in response to a media report that Ambassador Richard Butler had received directions from certain governments.

The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says it has received many reports of ethnically-based harassment in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Jose-Luis Diaz, a media officer for the Human Rights Commissioner said in Geneva on Friday that the Commission's office in Kinshasa has received reports of physical abuse of citizens, "apparently based on their ethnic origin or their physical appearance."

According to Mr. Diaz, the office also continued to receive reports from people looking for their relatives or others who had been arbitrarily detained since the beginning of the conflict in the country.

Mr. Diaz added that the office in Kinshasa was trying to follow up on the reports received and to confirm reports of arbitrary detentions and regroupment of population in different parts of Kinshasa.

Meanwhile, a United Nations Spokesman denied on Friday that the United Nations was planning to evacuate its staff from Kinshasa. Spokesman Juan Carlos Brandt said that the United Nations has six staff members in Kinshasa and that no evacuation had been planned for the time being. "However, they are looking into things and can move quickly into another phase if so required," Mr. Brandt told reporters.

The wife of a staff member of the World Health Organization was among the people who lost their lives in the bomb blast in Kenya last week, a United Nations spokesman said on Friday.

Spokesman Juan Carlos Brandt said that the latest update on the situation in east Africa indicated that five members suffered injuries during the bomb blasts in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam. "Most of those injuries were described as non life-threatening, minor bruises and cuts," Mr. Brandt said.

He added that the facilities of the United Nations in downtown Nairobi suffered minor damages. However, the spokesman said, one of the United Nations facilities in Dar es Salaam suffered significant structural damages and the extent of those damages was being assessed.

On Thursday the Security Council strongly condemned the terrorist bomb attacks on 7 August and called on all States and international institutions to assist in the ongoing investigations in Kenya, Tanzania and the United States to apprehend the perpetrators of those criminal acts and swiftly bring them to justice.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has reiterated his full confidence in the management of the head of the United Nations refugee agency.

The Secretary-General was responding to a newspaper report that there was financial mismanagement in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

United Nations Spokesman Juan Carlos Brandt told reporters on Friday that the Secretary-General had received the explanations provided by UNHCR concerning the recent allegations appearing in the Financial Times and was fully satisfied with those explanations.

"He wishes, once again, to reiterate his full confidence in the management of the High Commissioner, Mrs. Sadako Ogata, and is aware that governments share his confidence in the High Commissioner" the spokesman said.

"The Secretary-General who himself has personal experience in managing UNHCR's operations is aware of the vastly complex context in which the Office must operate," Mr. Brandt said. He added that the Secretary-General understood that given the scope of operations, lapses may occur involving persons who did not deserve the trust of the High Commissioner.

The United Nations refugee agency said on Friday that it was continuing to identify refugees fleeing the fighting in the province of Kosovo in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that all the new arrivals came from the town of Junik where most of the intense fighting has been going on during the past couple of weeks. The refugees fled the town on Wednesday as the fighting intensified between the Serb security forces and the rebels of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

According to UNHCR up to 500 people managed to cross from Kosovo to Albania on Thursday. They had fled the town on Wednesday and stayed overnight in the mountains, UNHCR said. The refugees said that Junik was empty and that thousands of people were still hiding in the mountains above Junik and Djakovica.

The United Nations refugee agency said that the situation at the border was very tense with skirmishes between the Serbs and the retreating combatants of the KLA.

The United Nations refugee agency has established a permanent presence in Bafata, in Guinea Bissau, to prepare for the distribution of relief supplies to refugees from Senegal.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said on Friday that it would cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross in assisting the refugees.

UNHCR Spokesman Kris Janowski said that the refugee agency and other United Nations agencies have conducted a week-long mission inside Guinea- Bissau to gather information on displaced people and refugees from the Casamance area of southern Senegal. The refugees fled Casamance when war broke out in June between the government and rebels.

UNHCR said that although the ceasefire signed on 28 July between the government and the military rebellion appeared to be holding, the agency's staff reported that movement around the country was still difficult.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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