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United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-04-20

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Tuesday, 20 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


  • UNHCR appeals for more help from NATO and others to deal with Kosovo refugee crisis.
  • UN refugee agency concerned about slowdown in border crossings from Kosovo.
  • World Food Programme appeals for more humanitarian daily rations for Kosovo refugees.
  • UN's Iraq programme says higher revenues from oil sales still not enough to meet needs of Iraqi people.
  • UN refugee agency says 50,000 have fled to Tanzania from war in Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • UN reports first ever arrangement on food aid between US and Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Sadako Ogata, on Tuesday appealed for more help from NATO countries and other States to cope with the unrelenting stream of refugees from Kosovo.

"We will continue to lead this operation, but we urgently need more contributions of the kind that only the military and civil protection units can provide," Ms. Ogata said in a statement. "We need additional support, and we need it now."

According to UNHCR, there have been reports of new massive movements of people fleeing their homes inside Kosovo and heading towards the borders.

Ms. Ogata warned that the hundreds of thousands of refugees were putting a severe strain on humanitarian agencies. "This emergency has already shown that traditional responses are not sufficient," she said. "It is much bigger and much faster than other outflows. We need help to transport relief supplies. We need help to set up more camps."

The High Commissioner also urged that the borders be kept open to tens of thousands of terrified Kosovo refugees, while international support was mobilized. She welcomed the decision by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to allow construction of a new camp, but said more were needed both in that country and in Albania. UNHCR has asked governments to accelerate humanitarian evacuations of refugees to other countries. To date, more than 15,000 Kosovo refugees have been airlifted to European nations in the UNHCR-coordinated programme.

Ogata called on political leaders to redouble their efforts to reach a political solution and said the world must focus on the immediate cause of the crisis. "The bottom line is that ethnic cleansing must stop, and it must stop immediately," she said. "If it does not end, this crisis will continue for a long time, and more people will suffer, no matter how efficient we are in bringing relief to refugees."

(Visit UNHCR's for in-depth coverage.)

While struggling to cope with the massive influx of Kosovo refugees, the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) on Tuesday expressed growing concern about the current slowdown in the number of people crossing border from Kosovo into neighbouring countries.

There were no significant new arrivals in Albania, according to the latest reports by UNHCR field officers. In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, some 3,000 Kosovars who managed to cross the border, in an area difficult to reach even by four- wheeled vehicles, said 7,000 more were on the way. At the Blachek crossing, only about 150 refugees with passports were allowed off a train before it returned into Kosovo with 250 to 350 people still on board. At another crossing 3,000 people were stuck in a no-man's land.

The UN refugee agency also expressed concern at escalating tensions along the border between Kosovo and Montenegro, where more than 70,000 people have fled.

(Visit UNHCR's for in-depth coverage.)

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is appealing for an additional six million humanitarian daily rations to feed the next surge of refugees from Kosovo, a UN spokesman said Tuesday.

The UN food agency has earlier appealed for $24.1 million for the next three months to meet the immense needs of an estimated 650,000 refugees.

WFP has delivered more than 2,000 metric tonnes of food to Albania since 28 March, according to the UN agency. It will also provide approximately 3,000 metric tonnes to help the Montenegran government cope with their own food supply problems for the general population.

Despite higher than projected sales of Iraqi oil in the current six-month period, the total estimated revenues may still not be enough to offset an overall "humanitarian deficit" of more than $2.5 billion accumulated over the past year, the head of the Iraq programme said on Tuesday.

Benon Sevan, Executive Director of the Office of the Iraq Programme (OIP), said revenue generated from oil sales for the current Phase V, which ends on 24 May, could reach an estimated $3.4 billion, up from the $2.9 billion that had been projected back in February. While saying that the additional revenue was welcome, Mr. Sevan cautioned against relying too much on the current upswing in the price of oil -- currently close to $14 a barrel.

In the OIP's weekly update, Mr. Sevan said the new estimates were still $1.7 billion below the $5.2 billion in sales authorized by the Security Council under its oil-for-food programme. The situation for the previous six-month period, known as Phase IV, had been far worse, he said, leading to a combined shortfall of $2.5 billion in humanitarian supplies for the Iraqi people.

The number of refugees fleeing to Tanzania from the eight- month war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was expected to pass the 50,000 mark on Tuesday, according to a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Spokesman Kris Janowski told a press briefing in Geneva on Tuesday that the UNHCR office on the Tanzanian shore of Lake Tanganyika was registering around 200 refugees a day, down from as many as 1,000 people a day earlier this year.

Most of the new arrivals had been taken to Lugufu camp, south-east of Kigoma, which had a population of 35,000. With the camp now nearing capacity, Mr. Janowski said, UNHCR and the Tanzanian government had chosen two other locations for possible camps should the population reach 40,000.

Meanwhile in Zambia, the flow of Congolese refugees had slowed to a trickle after about 28,000 refugees had crossed into the northern borders since March, according to the UNHCR spokesman.

UNHCR staff, however, remained on alert for renewed fighting between rebels and government forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The UN agency feared that the fighting could empty the larger border town of Pweto, where tens of thousands of displaced persons had moved from farther north in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, into Zambia, Mr. Janowski said.

(Visit UNHCR's for in-depth coverage.)

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on Tuesday confirmed the first ever bilateral arrangement on food aid between the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), a UN spokesman announced Tuesday.

According to the arrangement, US non-governmental organizations would help transfer 100,000 metric tonnes of food aid and an additional 100,000 tonnes of potato seeds from the United States to the DPRK. The first 2,000 metric tonnes of food aid will be taken from WFP stocks, the spokesman said.

WFP will be issuing an appeal for DPRK later this week, the spokesman said.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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