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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-08-20

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Thursday, 20 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 condemns terrorism in all its forms, says a statement issued by his spokesman.
  • United Nations prepares to move its staff members from Afghanistan should they wish to do so.
  • Security Council says conditions do not exist for modification of sanctions against Iraq.
  • Security Council President stresses importance of regional efforts to resolve conflict in Congo-Kinshasa.
  • United Nations food agency protests the looting of relief supplies in Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Canadian diplomat becomes chairman of committee to negotiate treaty to ban material for nuclear weapons.
  • Secretary-General sees prospects for completing identification of voters in Western Sahara referendum.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said that, sharing the views of the Security Council and the General Assembly, he condemns terrorism in all its forms, his Spokesman says in a statement issued on Thursday.

The statement says that the Secretary-General was informed by the United States Government of its military actions, minutes after they took place, against targets in Afghanistan and the Sudan in response to the terrorist attacks in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam.

"He is concerned over these developments and awaits further details," according to the statement.

The United Nations is preparing to move its staff members from Afghanistan, should they wish to do so, a United Nations spokesman said on Thursday.

Spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters that the United Nations had passed on to its offices in Afghanistan the warning by the United States embassy in Pakistan that all non-Muslim foreigners should leave the country.

Mr. Eckhard said that all non-essential travel inside Afghanistan had been suspended to reduce the risk to the staff.

The spokesman added that in the meantime, the United Nations continued to operate inside Afghanistan and all United Nations programmes were ongoing. "The United Nations itself, I have to point out, has not received any threats," Mr. Eckhard said.

The members of the Security Council have said that the necessary conditions did not exist for the modification of sanctions imposed on Iraq following its invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

The Council held its periodic meeting on Thursday to review the sanctions imposed under resolution 687 (1991). Following that meeting, the President of the Security Council, Ambassador Danilo Turk of Slovenia said the members of the Council reiterated that Iraq's decision to suspend cooperation with United Nations weapons inspectors "is totally unacceptable." He added that the members of the Council "viewed with extreme concern the continuing refusal of the Government of Iraq to rescind its decision."

Responding to a question from a reporter, Ambassador Turk said that there was unity in the 15-member Council that sanctions should remain in force.

Iraq decided on 5 August to suspend cooperation with United Nations weapons inspectors who are overseeing the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

The President of the Security Council on Thursday emphasized the importance which the Council attaches to the regional initiative to resolve the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Speaking to the press outside the Council chamber, Ambassador Danilo Turk of Slovenia said that for the time being, "the Council has considered that supporting the regional initiative would be the most practical way of proceeding."

He pointed out that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries had sent a fact-finding mission to the area and continued to be very actively engaged in an attempt to find a solution to the conflict in the country.

Ambassador Turk added that the Council had identified the broad principles on which a solution could be found to end the conflict. Those principles, he said, "certainly relate to preservation of territorial integrity and national sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of the Congo."

The United Nations food agency has protested against the looting of its relief supplies in the eastern part of Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said on Thursday that armed men had seized more than 800 metric tonnes of food aid, vehicles and communications equipment from its bases. According to WFP, over the last two weeks, looters in Uvira made off with 426 metric tonnes of food aid. In Bukavu, the agency added, men in uniform confiscated its warehouse storing 400 tonnes of food aid, and commandeered three WFP cars.

"We strongly protest against these acts which divert needed food aid from thousands of impoverished Congolese," said Zakaria Ousman, WFP Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. "We demand that the stolen goods be immediately returned," the WFP official added.

The United Nations food agency said that the relief supplies were needed to assist more than 50,000 Congolese returnees, displaced persons and orphans in south Kivu.

WFP has a total of 45 national staff still working in its three offices in the eastern part of the country and 20 staff in Kinshasa. The outbreak of fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the beginning of August prompted international workers to evacuate over the past two weeks. The last of WFP's international staff relocated from Kinshasa to Abidjan on Friday.

"We urge those who are in charge to take the necessary measures to guarantee the safety of WFP staff and property throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo," said Zakaria Ousman.

The Conference on Disarmament has appointed a Canadian diplomat to lead a committee to negotiate a treaty to prohibit production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Ambassador Mark Moher was appointed on Thursday as Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee to negotiate a prohibition on production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Following his appointment in Geneva, Ambassador Moher said there was no question that Canada had very clear views regarding the treaty that the Conference hoped to negotiate. However, he added, Canada, as chairman, committed itself to behave in a neutral way.

He said that the Canadian chair would do its best to move the work of the Committee forward. Ambassador Moher pledged to try to at least begin the work of the Committee this year by taking advantage of the only two available time periods on 28 August and 1 September.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says that there are prospects for completing, this month, the identification of applicants eligible to participate in the referendum for Western Sahara.

In his progress report on the situation in Western Sahara, the Secretary- General says that applications from all Saharan ethnic groups can be identified, with the exception a few that are still being contested.

The Secretary-General adds that his Special Representative, Charles Dunbar, has not received from Morocco or the Frente Popular para la Liberacion de Seguia el-Hamra y del Rio de Oro (POLISARIO Front) any practical suggestions to reconcile their different points of view.

The two parties have differed on the eligibility of certain groups to participate in the referendum to decide the future of Western Sahara which has been claimed by Morocco.

The United Nations Secretary-General, assisted by the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), is preparing for a referendum to allow the people of Western Sahara to choose between independence and integration with Morocco.

The Secretary-General says in his latest report that so far 145,928 persons have been identified for participation in the referendum.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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