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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-01-11

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, January 11, 2000

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONSULTS WITH COUNCIL ON UNMOVIC CHIEF

Secretary-General Kofi Annan met with members of the Security Council this morning to discuss candidates for the Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) for Iraq.

He met first with the five Permanent Members, and then with all 15 Council members.

He described the talks as "constructive and helpful" and says he hopes to be able to make an announcement soon.

SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON PREVLAKA, KOSOVO

The Security Council met for consultations this morning on the Secretary-General's report on the United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP) and on the situation in Kosovo.

In his report on UNMOP, the Secretary-General hopes that, following the elections in Croatia, it will be possible for the political process to resume. The last talks between the two sides were held ten months ago.

The Secretary-General recommends that the mandate of the mission and its 27 military observers be extended for a further six months. The current mandate expires on 15 January.

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Bernard Miyet, briefed the Council on the latest developments in Kosovo. Miyet and Jock Covey, the Principal Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, responded to questions posed by Council members.

In Pristina, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) issued a press release on the sixth meeting of the Kosovo Interim Administrative Council, during which progress was reported in creating the structures that will run Kosovo until elections.

Bernard Kouchner, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Kosovo, said after the meeting, "This is the first time in the history of the United Nations system that we are sharing the administration and working directly with the local people."

Kouchner said that today's meeting had focused on the current state of electrical power in Kosovo, which has suffered after a fire last night caused the main power plant to shut down. Kosovo's two power plants have suffered from years of neglect.

YUGOSLAV TRIBUNAL RECEIVES PLEAS FROM BOSNIAN SERBS

Today at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Radoslav Brdnin and Gen. Momir Talic pleaded "not guilty" to additional charges brought against them, including genocide.

The two senior officials, both Bosnian Serbs, are accused of having planned, instigated and organized the campaign of ethnic cleansing in northwestern Bosnia in 1992. The charges against them include genocide, torture, deportation, persecution, destruction of property, and destruction of religious sites. Brdnin was arrested on 6 July 1999, and Talic on August 25, 1999. They are charged on the basis of both their individual and command criminal responsibility.

SECRETARY-GENERAL RECEIVES EAST TIMOR HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT

Today, the Secretary-General is receiving the report of the International Commission of Inquiry on human rights violations in East Timor. It is now being studied by relevant Secretariat officials.

The Commission of Inquiry, led by Sonia Picado of Costa Rica, was established following a resolution of the Commission on Human Rights at a special session on September 27, 1999. Its mandate was to gather and compile systematically information on possible violations in East Timor.

The Commission was to report to the Secretary-General with its conclusions in order to enable him to make recommendations for future action. The report is to be made available to the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights at its next session.

UNHCR NOTES RISE IN REFUGEES LEAVING WEST TIMOR CAMPS

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today that a large number of Timorese refugees are leaving camps in West Timor's provincial capital, Kupang, and registering to repatriate.

Last Saturday morning, 462 people returned to Dili from the Kupang camps by ship. A similar number is expected to arrive in Dili on Wednesday. By today, some 600 refugees had already gathered at Kupang's transit center to board the next ship to Dili.

As recently as three weeks ago, UNHCR had reported only a trickle of refugees leaving the Kupang camps. However, according to testimony from the refugees, the weakening power of the militias and the UNHCR mass information campaign have encouraged them to return.

In response to questions about the East Timorese refugees, the Spokesman said that the UN Mission and INTERFET had established three land border crossings between East and West Timor. The refugees from Kupang, he noted, were travelling from camps around Kupang to East Timor by ship.

The Spokesman noted that there continue to be problems with the border crossings, and the United Nations has tried to improve security. One of the problems hindering refugee returns, he said, was misinformation spread by the militias in the camps, which had required the mass information campaign. "They're seeing what they consider, while the numbers are still small, a significant increase in the rate of return," Eckhard said.

He added that there are now signs of weakening militia influence in the camps. For example, UNHCR has been able in recent weeks to circulate in some camps without military escorts, whereas before, they would at times be prevented from entering camps even when they were accompanied by military escorts, he said.

UN AND INTERFET EXHUME SIX BODIES IN EAST TIMOR

UN civilian police and investigators from the International Force in East Timor (INTERFET) today exhumed six bodies at a beachside graveyard in Maubara, around 25 km west of Dili.

Three of the bodies were identified by relatives. Two of the exhumed had been shot several times, while three had multiple stab wounds. The bodies are believed to be those of victims of an attack on a church in nearby Liquica that occurred on 6 April 1999.

On Wednesday, the UN police and INTERFET will resume their work by exhuming another 10 bodies, believed to be those of victims of a separate attack which took place in Dili last 17 April.

UN REPORTS NEARLY 2 MILLION BARRELS IN IRAQ OIL EXPORTS LAST WEEK

According to the Office of the Iraq Programme's latest weekly update on the "oil-for-food" programme, Iraq exported 6.9 million barrels of oil, with an estimated value of $151 million, last week. The total revenue since the beginning of Phase VII of the programme, which began on December 12, is around $850 million.

So far, the Sanctions Committee on Iraq has approved 64 contracts for the sale of oil for a total volume of 202.2 million barrels.

UNHCR: REFUGEE SITUATION IN INGUSHETIA IMPROVED

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that the flow of people across the border between Chechnya and Ingushetia continues in both directions, but the number of people going back to Chechnya outnumbers those who are leaving. An estimated 70,000 people have gone back to Chechnya, while between 150,000 and 180,000 displaced Chechens remain in Ingushetia.

The returns to Chechnya and the large-scale humanitarian effort have improved the situation on the ground in Ingushetia, UNHCR says. Today, UNHCR's 21st aid convoy to Ingushetia reached the capital, Nazran.

Meanwhile, UNHCR continues to be concerned about the fate of some 20,000 or more civilians who have been trapped in the heavy fighting in the Chechen capital, Grozny.

UNHCR ASSESSES NEEDS OF COLOMBIANS SEEKING REFUGE IN PANAMA

Also in UNHCR news, a two-member team just completed a mission to Panama, conducted from January 2 until 7, to assess the needs of 355 Colombians who had fled to Panama from the Colombian coastal town of Jurado. They had fled following an attack last December 12 by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The 355 Colombians are now living in the Panamanian coastal village of Jacque, UNHCR reports, where they are staying with townspeople and are said to be in good shape.

FIGHTING IN ANGOLA CAUSES REFUGEE EXODUS TO ZAMBIA

UNHCR also reports that more than 7,500 Angolans have arrived in Western Zambia since the New Year began, following heavy fighting in Angola's Cuando-Cubango province.

The refugees, mainly women and children, have been arriving on foot, and are in poor health, with several cases of diarrhea, malaria and skin diseases. Since fighting in Angola intensified in October, a total of 20,500 refugees have fled to Zambia.

High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata will brief the Security Council on refugee crises in Africa in an open meeting on Thursday.

FIGURES FOR 1999 UN HUMANITARIAN APPEALS RELEASED

Figures by the end of December for the 1999 UN Inter-Agency Emergency Appeals have just been released. According to these figures, donors have provided $1.7 billion out of the $2.4 billion required for humanitarian operations. That amounts to just over 69 percent of the total funds needed.

While Southeastern Europe received 80 percent of requested contributions, some African countries in urgent need of assistance were provided with less than 20 percent of their requirements, including the Republic of Congo and Uganda. Nevertheless, according to the figures, Africa has so far received 72 percent of its assessed needs.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The first meeting of the Standing Committee of Experts on the General Status and Operation of the Ottawa Convention, held on January 10-11, is concluding now in Geneva. The meeting, co-chaired by Canada and South Africa, reviews progress in implementing the Convention, which prohibits the production and sale of anti-personnel mines. More than two million stockpiled landmines have been destroyed by 29 signatory countries since the entry into force of the Convention, according to information provided by the signatory states which is available on the UN web site.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) today announced the appointment of two new Deputy Executive Directors. One is Kul Gautam, of Nepal, who was appointed as Deputy Director for Alliances and Resources and will oversee UNICEF's global advocacy role, inter-governmental and UN relations, resource mobilization and alliance building. The other is Andre Roberfroid, of Belgium, who was appointed Deputy Director for Programme and Strategic Planning and will manage UNICEF's global planning and programming initiatives.

Australia is the 13th member to pay its regular budget dues in full for the year 2000, with a payment of almost $15.6 million.


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