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United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-04-12

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

DAILY HIGHLIGHTS

Monday, 12 April, 1999


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.

Latest Developments


HEADLINES

  • No reply yet from Milosevic to Secretary-General's proposal to end Kosovo crisis.
  • UN reports slowing of refugee flows from Kosovo after thousands leave over weekend.
  • Secretary-General regrets Taliban decision not to resume negotiations.


Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Monday that he had not yet heard back from President Milosevic regarding the proposal the UN leader had made last week to end the crisis in Kosovo.

At a press conference in Madrid, the Secretary-General confirmed that he had written to the Yugoslav leader, conveying the content of the five-point proposal he had issued last Friday in Geneva.

In his proposal, the Secretary-General urged the Yugoslav authorities to immediately end its campaign of intimidation and expulsion against Kosovo's civilians and withdraw military and paramilitary forces. Mr. Annan also urged Belgrade to allow refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes and permit the deployment of an international security force to protect them.

The Secretary-General said his proposal was an attempt to put an end to the suffering in the region and that he hoped that President Milosevic would respond. When asked if it would be useful for him to meet with Milosevic, the Secretary-General said his good offices were always available in any situation where he could be helpful.


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported on Monday that more than 8,000 Kosovo refugees crossed the borders into neighbouring countries over the weekend as Serb forces opened the borders briefly.

Nearly 4,300 new arrivals crossed into Morini, Albania, around 3,600 arrived in Montenegro, but only 300 managed to escape into the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Refugees arriving in Albania from the villages west of the Kosovo capital of Pristina said they had been told to leave by Serbian security forces. They said they were allowed to take their vehicles and although they had to pass through many check points, they faced no violence during their journey. As with previous groups, their identification papers and car number plates were taken away. However, medical agencies working with UNHCR at the border reported that the refugees were in relatively good physical condition on arrival.

The refugee flow had slowed by Monday, with a group of 29 and another of 75 reported crossing into Kukes, Albania, said UNHCR. There were no new arrivals in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The border situation remained unclear. Both borders appeared to be closed on the Yugoslav side, and opened sporadically only when groups came through.

Meanwhile, other refugees were evacuated outside the immediate region. Some 3,200 refugees were evacuated out of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by air to Germany, Norway, Poland and Turkey, bringing the total airlifted from that country to nearly 8,000.

The UN refugee agency estimates that there are now more than 309,500 refugees in Albania. But fewer than 80,000 remain in Kukes near the Kosovo border, as the Albanian government, with the help of aid agencies, moves refugees to other parts of the country. The food situation in the Kukes area was improving, with humanitarian rations and other supplies being ferried from the capital Tirana by truck and helicopter. With several confirmed cases of measles among refugee children in the Kukes, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will launch an vaccination campaign on Tuesday.

In Montenegro, the border town of Rozaje was packed with displaced people, said UNHCR. Over 14,000 new arrivals there had placed a severe strain on accommodation facilities and raised concerns about sanitation. Industrial sites providing temporary shelter were full to capacity.


United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has expressed deep regret that the Taliban leadership decided over the weekend not to resume the negotiations which had started in Ashkabad, Turkmenistan, under UN auspices.

In a statement issued by his spokesman on Monday, the Secretary-General said that he was concerned that this development would lead to the intensification of fighting between the Taliban and the United Front. That, he added, would inflict more suffering on the people of Afghanistan and more destruction in an already devastated country.

The Secretary-General said that the UN would resume consultations with the two sides as well as other Afghans, interested Member States and the Organization of Islamic Countries. The consultations would be aimed at exploring the scope for agreement on confidence-building measures which might help contain the current level of fighting and hopefully draw the two sides back to peaceful discussion, Mr. Annan said.


For information purposes only - - not an official record

From the United Nations home page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org


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