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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-01-18

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 18, 2000

&nbsp;

SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS OPEN BRIEFING ON ANGOLA

The Security Council began an open meeting this morning on Angola. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast briefed the Council on the United Nations' current assessment of the situation. He said that there was no question that the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) bears the primary responsibility for the continued humanitarian and human rights catastrophe in Angola.

The Chairman of the Angola Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Robert Fowler of Canada, outlined the results of his visit to Angola last week, which included 15 hours of interviews with former military officers and officials of UNITA.

Videotaped excerpts of these interviews were played in the Council chamber. They provided details of UNITA's financial network, its use of diamonds as currency for purchasing weapons, the role of weapons brokers and of mercenaries used for training soldiers.

The interviews also attributed responsibility to UNITA for the shooting down of two UN aircraft in December 1998 and January 1999. Twenty-three people died in those incidents.

Asked about whether it was credible that UNITA had shot down the planes, the Spokesman said, "We're still assessing the report that the Ambassador gave this morning." He added, in response to a question, that the 1998 plane crash in which Special Representative to Angola Alioune Blondin Beye died did not involve a shooting incident.

The World Food Programme (WFP) announced today that it urgently needs $100,000 for the airlift of 300 tons of food for the 7,000 Angolan refugees who have recently arrived in Zambia, in the region along the Zambezi River. WFP says it needs to airlift the food because the roads can't be used during the rainy season and the river is not high enough to use barges for transport.

COUNCIL TO HOLD CLOSED CONSULTATIONS ON IRAQ

At 3 p.m. today, the Security Council will hold closed consultations on Iraq. This follows the lack of consensus in the Council on the nomination by the Secretary-General of Rolf Ekeus, Sweden's Ambassador to the United States, as Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC).

In response to questions about a possible rejection of Ekeus by the Council, the Spokesman said that it was "unusual" for a resolution to state that the Security Council should approve a nomination by the Secretary-General. The discussion of that appointment, he added, would begin at 3 p.m. "The matter is now in the hands of the Council," Eckhard said.

The Secretary-General, he added, still hoped that the Council would look at Ekeus's nomination in the context of the large number of candidates who have already been considered and rejected, and could regard Ekeus as a reasonable compromise candidate. The Secretary-General by this morning "hadn't excluded the possibility that there might be some understanding reached in the Council in support of his nominee," Eckhard said.

However, if the Council were to reject the nominee, he added, the large number of candidates considered and rejected "doesn't suggest that there are many names left to consider."

He added, however, that "a rejection of the nominee isn't the end of the process They will, I assume, continue looking for a candidate acceptable to all of them."

MANDELA TO ATTEND WEDNESDAY COUNCIL MEETING ON BURUNDI

This afternoon's consultations will also include discussions on Burundi.

There will be a formal meeting tomorrow on Burundi, which will begin with a briefing from former South African President Nelson Mandela, who is the Facilitator of the Arusha Process.

ANNAN WELCOMES STATEMENTS FROM GUATEMALAN PRESIDENT

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement on Guatemala, where Alfonso Portillo was inaugurated as President last week, welcomed President Portillo's statements on the promotion of national reconciliation, reparations to the victims of the civil war and the urgency of addressing the needs of those most affected by poverty.

ANNAN SUBMITS LETTER TO COUNCIL ON "OIL-FOR-FOOD" SPARE PARTS

The Secretary-General has written to the President of the Security Council, submitting a detailed list of parts and equipment that Iraq proposes to buy under Phase VII of the "oil-for-food" programme.

In the letter, issued today as a document, the Secretary-General repeated his recommendation from last year that the allocation for the oil sector under Phase VI of the programme be increased from $300 million to $600 million. He noted that funds are available for such an increase.

On Iraq's request to spend $600 million in the current phase, the Secretary-General said he wants first to see the report of the group of experts currently in Iraq, which will assess the state of the oil industry.

He said that, unless contracts for key items of oil equipment are approved and arrive within a short time frame, oil production in Iraq is likely to drop.

Last week, Iraq exported 14.1 million barrels of oil. Total oil exports since the beginning of Phase VII on December 12 now stand at 54.3 million barrels, for an estimated revenue of $1.3 billion.

UNHCR REPORTS CONFUSIONS OVER SEARCHES AT CHECHNYA BORDER

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that the situation on the border between Chechnya and Ingushetia continues to be confusing.

UNHCR said the initial restriction of movement of males between the ages of 10 and 60, announced by the Russian military commanders last week, has since been officially lifted, but all males crossing in and out of Chechnya are thoroughly checked by Russian special police units. Young males are often subjected to body searches.

The daily numbers of those leaving Chechnya have remained low since the fighting intensified last week. All escape routes out of Grozny appear to be cut, and only very few people make their way out. The situation of civilians trapped in Grozny and deprived of any humanitarian aid is believed to be worsening by the day, causing increased concern.

Meanwhile the 23rd UNHCR relief convoy arrived in Ingushetia's capital, Nazran, this morning.

UN ADMINISTRATOR APPROVES TWO PROJECTS IN EAST TIMOR

Today in East Timor, UN Transitional Administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello signed his approval of two projects, to be executed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with funding from the Government of Norway.

De Mello approved the projects in a signing ceremony in Dili, in which Nobel laureate Jose Ramos Horta and representatives of the Norwegian Government and UNDP were also present.

The two projects, which cost a total of about $1 million, are for road repairs in Ermera District, and for training farmers in long-term rice production in six East Timorese districts. The road repair project is expected to create about 100 jobs for East Timorese workers in its first phase.

De Mello said today's signings were the first time that the United Nations has approved projects in East Timor that are "directly related to reconstruction and rehabilitation."

Also today, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) issued a press release, which says that in the Belu District of West Timor, malnutrition affects 25 percent of refugee children under the age of five.

ANNAN SENDS MESSAGE TO OPENING OF CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT

In Geneva today, Vladimir Petrovsky, Director-General of the UN Office in Geneva, delivered a message from the Secretary-General to the opening of this year's session of the Conference on Disarmament.

In his message, the Secretary-General praised progress in the fight against landmines, in the negotiations on a verification protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention, and in increased recognition of the problem of small arms. But he warned that progress has slowed on issues of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

The Secretary-General warned, "One of the more disturbing trends in 1999 was the emergence of new tensions between the major players over disarmament and international security issues."

INTERIM ADMINISTRATIVE COUNCIL MEETS IN KOSOVO

The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) reported on the meeting today of the Interim Administrative Council for Kosovo. The Council allocated an additional nine administrative departments to political parties and independents, bringing the total number of departments allocated so far to 15, out of 19 that had been originally proposed.

The Secretary-General's Special Representative Bernard Kouchner briefed the meeting participants on the security situation. He noted that despite the cold weather, which normally decreased the incidents of crime, the past 10 days had seen several violent incidents, especially targeted against minority groups in Kosovo.

Reviewing the cases of brutal murders, arson and bombings against various minority communities, Kouchner stressed that such levels of violence continued to be unacceptable. He called for more help from the local population and the local leadership to uncover information about these crimes.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The weekly humanitarian update from Afghanistan, issued today, includes an item on new agricultural projects by the UN International Drug Control Programme involving orchard establishment and pest management on land previously used for opium poppy production.

On Wednesday, Mike Moore, the Director-General of the World Trade Organization, will meet with the Secretary-General and other senior UN officials to discuss cooperation between the two organizations.

At 11:30 this morning in the UN Treaty Section, Ambassador Abdallah Baali of Algeria signed the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, making Algeria the ninth country to sign the Convention since it was opened for signature last week. The treaty will need to be ratified by 22 countries before it can enter into force.

The Status of Contributions to the United Nations, as of December 31, 1999, was issued. It indicates that, as of the end of last year, Member States owed just over $244 million to the UN regular budget, approximately $1.48 billion to the peacekeeping budget and just under $32 million to the budget for the international tribunals.

In response to a question on the appointment of Francesc Vendrell to head the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan (UNSMA), the Spokesman said that the position of Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi had been "frozen" since he did not see anything he could do to be of use there. Annan responded with Vendrell's appointment "so that a certain level of political activity could continue." Eckhard noted that Brahimi also serves as Under-Secretary-General for Special Assignments in Support of the Secretary-General's Preventive and Peacemaking Efforts.


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