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United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-04-16
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: email@example.com
Friday, 16 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.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported on Friday that the expulsion of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian population has resumed in full force.
At least 12,000 people have poured out of Kosovo over the past 24 hours with tales of execution, torture and arson, according to UNHCR. Thousands more are streaming across the border into northern Albania, many of them stripped of any belongings. Some had walked for four days. A young girl expelled from Mitrovica told UNHCR of seeing the whole downtown on fire and said she had counted more than 50 bodies in the street. Refugees believe whole towns in Kosovo are being emptied out.
UNHCR is very worried about security in northern Albania's Kukes area since virtually every day, villages on the border are being shelled by Yugoslav forces. Moving an estimated 80,0000 refugees out of the area is a big priority. With the help of local authorities, UNHCR is transferring about 5, 000 refugees a day to central and southern Albania.
In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, UNHCR received reports that at least one train and two buses went back north into Kosovo from the Blace border crossing on Thursday without disembarking their passengers.
Over the past few days, more than 7,000 new displaced persons trekked over the mountains from Kosovo into Montenegro bringing the total in that province to at least 70,000, the UN refugee agency reported. It said although Montenegrin authorities were fully committed to protecting the displaced persons, security was a growing concern.
The plight of people displaced from their homes during crises is often ignored and the international community should ensure that their needs for protection and assistance are adequately met, the UN envoy for internally displaced persons said Friday.
In a statement released from Geneva, the Representative of the Secretary- General on Internally Displaced Persons Francis M. Deng said the situation in Kosovo had spotlighted the "dismal lack" of international response to those forcibly displaced within their own countries. He called upon the international community to take "bold steps" to address this "perilous" gap in the protection system.
Mr. Deng noted that over the last decade a legal and institutional framework had been developed for those forced to flee their homes, which provided for protection against arbitrary displacement, protection and assistance during displacement, and in the return or resettlement phase. He stressed, however, that a clear and consistent international approach for assisting the 20 million to 25 million displaced persons in over 40 countries remained at a nascent stage.
A mechanism should be created, or an existing agency with the requisite capacity be designated, to advocate the cause of the internally displaced, Mr. Deng said. Until then, the international community should support and reinforce the role of the UN Office of the Emergency Relief Coordinator.
"As the case of Kosovo shows, internally displaced persons receive little or no attention," Mr. Deng said. "The international response is still ad hoc and selective."
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has renewed his appeal to donors to contribute to the restructuring of the armed forces in the Central African Republic, adding that it is an important process which will help stabilize the security situation in the country and the subregion as a whole.
In his latest report to the Security Council on the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA), the Secretary-General says that the imminent adoption of laws on the restructuring of the armed forces was a major step in the right direction. He adds, however, that although the Government had made budgetary provision for the programme, it would remain heavily dependent on donors for the funds necessary to complete the restructuring.
The Secretary-General also strongly appeals for contributions to support the Central African police force in order to allow its officers to utilize the training provided by the MINURCA civilian police component (CIVPOL), which has continued its programme for the police and gendarmerie in the country.
The Secretary-General says that though the situation remains calm and the country is "an island of relative stability" in the region, intense distrust among the country's political leaders persists while the economic and social situation remains precarious. He says that the country's government continues to make some progress in carrying out reforms it has pledged to make, but progress has been slow.
The Secretary-General points out that some progress has also been made in preparation for the forthcoming presidential elections scheduled for August/September this year. While welcoming the decree on the creation of the Mixed and Independent Electoral Commission (CEMI), he notes that the late start in its inauguration has delayed all the resulting decisions regarding funding, the revision of the electoral register, practical and logistical preparations and even the date of polling.
The top UN humanitarian official has urged the Angolan parties to take "immediate and concrete" measures to identify and punish persons responsible for the murder of six aid workers in Angola.
In a statement issued on Friday, Sergio Vieira de Mello, the Under- Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said that he had learnt with profound sorrow and consternation of the brutal murder of the relief workers on Thursday, had been killed while on mission to Sumbe, Kwanza Sul province.
Mr. Vieira de Mello, who is also the Emergency Relief Coordinator, said that this "barbaric act" came at a time when national and international relief workers were seeking access to alleviate the suffering of war- affected populations in 14 of Angola's 18 provinces.
Mr. Vieira de Mello called on the Government of Angola and the armed elements of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) to take immediate actions to bring to justice those responsible for the murder and to improve security and protection of humanitarian aid workers.
The UN Relief Coordinator extended his condolences to the families and friends of the victims, the Government of Angola, and the non-governmental organizations which had employed the victims.
The head of the UN's lead drug control agency is set to sign an agreement with the leader of Tajikistan to provide drug control and crime prevention assistance, a UN spokesman said on Friday.
Pino Arlacchi, Executive Director of the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP), and President Emomali Rakhmonov were expected to sign the project document for UN assistance to Tajikistan to strengthen its border controls and improve the detection capability of Tajik law enforcement bodies, including the establishment of a dog training centre, the spokesman said. Mr. Arlacchi was also scheduled to visit the Afghan border during his visit.
The UN's accord with Tajikistan comes on the heels of an agreement for a $5.2 million programme for drug law enforcement in Pakistan signed by Mr. Arlacchi on Wednesday. According to the UN spokesman, Pakistani officials had assured Mr. Arlacchi of their country's full commitment to drug control and full support for the UN drug programme's activities in their country. Pakistani authorities also pledged to make a further attempt with the Taliban leadership to achieve progress in drug control in Afghanistan.
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