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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-08-17

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Monday, 17 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 Secretary-General condemns bombing in Omagh, Northern Ireland.
  • Former Prefect of Butare pleads not guilty to six counts before Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
  • International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda opens new homepage on the World Wide Web.
  • Secretary-General says political crisis in Tajikistan has been overshadowed by murder of four United Nations observers.
  • United Nations Children's Fund describes multiple threats to Indonesia's children as an international emergency.
  • Instability in Congo-Kinshasa causes hardships to Congolese children, according to a UNICEF officer.
  • Five United Nations agencies will provide $20 million to strengthen education in India.
  • United Nations Development Programme launches initiative to address women's concerns in Sri Lanka.
  • Director-General of UNESCO expresses concern over new attacks by Taliban in Afghanistan.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has condemned the bombing in Omagh, Northern Ireland over the weekend.

In a statement issued by his Spokesman on Monday, the Secretary- General extended his deepest condolences to the families of all those killed or injured in the "terrible" bombing. "He condemns this wanton and indiscriminate act of terrorism, and the men of violence who perpetrated it, " the statement said.

The statement said the Secretary-General knew "how deeply both communities in Northern Ireland long to live free of the shadow of violence." He warmly welcomed the repudiation of such violence by most of the sectarian groups that had hitherto practised it.

The Secretary-General said he shared the conviction of the great majority of the people of Ireland, north and south, that change could only come about by peaceful means.

The former Prefect of Butare in Rwanda on Monday pleaded not guilty to all six charges brought against him by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania.

Colonel Alphonse Nteziryayo, who was also a former Commanding Officer of the Military Police, is charged with Genocide, Direct and Public Incitement to Genocide, Complicity in Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, and Violations of the Geneva Conventions.

The accused is alleged to have ordered the murder of all surviving Tutsis and to have taken part in some of the murders while he was Prefect of Butare. He is alleged to have supervised militia training, distributed weapons in all communes of the prefecture and given firm instructions to the Interahamwe militia in conjunction with their President, Robert Kajuga. He is also said to have directly and publicly incited the population to massacre the Tutsis in Butare Prefecture.

Colonel Nteziryayo, who was arrested in Burkina Faso on 24 April 1998 and transferred to Arusha on 21 May 1998, entered the plea before Trial Chamber 1 which is presided over by Judge Laity Kama, and includes Judges Yakov Ostrovsky and Navanethem Pillay. Mr. Nteziryayo is defended by Titing Fr‚d‚ric Pacere from Burkina Faso.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has announced its new homepage on the World Wide Web,

The new Web Site includes the Tribunal's documents and authoritative information such as the Statute and Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the Directive on Assignment of Defence Counsel, the Directive on Court Management and press releases from the Tribunal.

The public is invited to visit the Web Site which will be updated on a continuous basis. More information will be included in the Web Site in due course.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says that the political crisis in Tajikistan has been overshadowed by the murder of four members of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT).

"I cannot find words strong enough to condemn the murder of the four members of UNMOT, who were on a mission of peace and were unarmed," the Secretary-General says. He expresses the hope that the perpetrators of this crime will soon be found and brought to justice.

In his interim report on the situation in Tajikistan, the Secretary- General says that the current mandate of UNMOT began with a political crisis over the bill on political parties.

Mr. Kofi Annan says he hopes that the Tajik parties will muster the will and determination to implement in good faith and at a steady pace the general peace agreement they signed more than a year ago. "I should like to encourage the Tajik parties to make good use of the continuing international backing for the peace process," the Secretary-General adds.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Monday that multiple threats to the health, well-being and basic education of Indonesia's children constitute an international emergency.

In a message which coincided with Indonesia's independence day, UNICEF Executive Director, Carol Bellamy, said that the fate of millions of Indonesian children and women was at stake. Ms. Bellamy said that civil unrest had lead to "egregious" violations of human rights.

She said that some 4 million Indonesian children below the age of 2 were already severely malnourished and more than 30 per cent of the children were at risk of failing to complete primary school. "A growing number of poor families are either not enrolling their young children in school or pulling older children out so they can assist in supporting the family," she said.

On the nutritional front, Ms. Bellamy pointed out that despite generous grants from Australia, Canada, Norway, United States and others, UNICEF was short of the $18 million a year needed to adequately feed the country's children under 2 years of age.

The head of the children's agency expressed concern that over $50 billion in emergency loans to Indonesia by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the World Bank and other lending agencies may not be enough to turn things around. She called for sustained international aid to save the lives of Indonesian children.

The instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has caused hardships to the Congolese children, according to an information officer of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Danielle Maillefer, who is UNICEF's Information Officer in Congo- Kinshasa told United Nations Radio on Monday that millions of children have suffered as a result of civil strife in the country.

Ms. Maillefer said that there has been an increase in the number of street children in the country. Some of these children, she added, have been forced to work in the mines. Over 80 per cent of the population in Congo- Kinshasa live below absolute poverty, she added.

She said that lack of infrastructure has made it difficult to transport food to the cities. Under the previous government of Mobutu Seseko, roads were completely neglected which has made the transportation of food more expensive and looting in 1991 and 1993 has made the situation worse, she said.

According to Ms. Maillefer, the situation of the Congolese children has been exacerbated by the outbreak of epidemics such as cholera, malaria and polio.

In the area of education, she said, millions of children do not go to school. She estimated that there are about 14 million children who should be going to school. Out of that number, she added, nearly 5 million registered last year. However, she pointed out, 75 per cent of those children dropped out of school before the end of the year. Lack of education among the Congolese children did not augur well for the reconstruction of the country, Ms Maillefer said.

To help alleviate the situation, UNICEF has embarked on a massive training of thousands of teachers and is planning to train many more, Ms. Maiffeler said. But even this is not sufficient since there will still be millions of children without education, she added.

Five United Nations agencies have committed themselves to provide $20 million to a government programme in India to improve education.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the International Labour Organization (ILO) are participating in the Programme.

The programme will strengthen primary education and community involvement in local schools in areas where female literacy and income levels are low. The programme will also target areas with high concentrations of indigenous people.

According to UNDP, which is providing $8.7 million, the programme will seek to increase enrolment of students, especially girls, and will improve teacher's skills and the participation of the community in school management.

UNDP adds that the jointly funded effort of the United Nations reflects the new spirit of coordination among United Nations organizations in India as a result of reform initiatives introduced by Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has launched a programme to ensure that women's concerns are taken into account in the formulation of national policies and programmes in Sri Lanka.

UNDP said on Monday that the initiative has been launched in cooperation with the Ministry of Women's Affairs of Sri Lanka where only five per cent of parliamentarians are female although 50 per cent of the people are women. As a result, UNDP added, women's concerns are not adequately represented in policy formulation.

The programme, at a cost of $334,000 will encourage more women to become politically active. It will also train a focal point for women's issues in each government ministry.

The focal points will have the task of making sure that specific gender concerns such as violence against women, high female unemployment and low participation in political life are taken into account when new policies are analyzed and formulated.

The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has expressed grave concern over the new attacks launched by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor said on Monday that the Taliban offensive did not help to solve the problems of that country. Such offensive, he added, is always followed by "innumerable violations of human rights."

Mr. Mayor condemned the Taliban regime which he characterized as "a regime which, in the name of misguided and unacceptable interpretation of the Koran, fails to respect the most basic rights." He added that the Taliban regime no longer allowed even humanitarian organizations to help the needy population.

He reiterated his condemnation of the Taliban authority for its open violation of human rights, and its humiliation and discrimination against women. He said the Taliban "inflicts mutilations and other show-case punishments" thus excluding itself from the community of nations.

The head of UNESCO also condemned the utter disregard of the Taliban towards the international community which unanimously requested a real cease-fire and negotiations among the Afghan parties. He said that this new offensive "with its train of indiscriminate violence, bombing of civilian populations" proved that the Taliban and its supporters do not want to admit that violence will not solve the problems of Afghanistan. He stressed that only negotiations can bring just and durable solutions.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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