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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-01-21

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

Friday, January 21, 2000

&nbsp;

KOFI ANNAN MEETS U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE MEMBERS

Secretary-General Kofi Annan met this morning for almost an hour with members of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including its Chairman, Jesse Helms, and its ranking Democratic Party member Joseph Biden. Also present was the Chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, John Warner.

They discussed resource shortages in Kosovo, on which subject the Secretary-General commented, "You can't build a nation by passing the hat." They also discussed peace efforts in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the search for an Executive Chairman of the new United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) on Iraq.

The footage of the opening session showed that "it was not only a cordial meeting -- it was downright convivial."

The Secretary-General will join the lunch hosted by U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke for members of the Committee, members of the Security Council and others. After the conclusion of the lunch, Holbrooke and the Senators met with reporters outside the Security Council.

Asked about Annan's reaction to comments by Helms to the Security Council on Thursday, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General "feels that it's a positive step to open this dialogue. He feels we've turned a corner in the relationship between the United States and the United Nations."

EAST TIMOR ADMINISTRATOR TRAVELS TO OECUSSI

In East Timor today, United Nations Transitional Administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello traveled to the western enclave of Oecussi, also referred to as Ambeno. During that trip, he visited Bobometo, the site of recent militia incursions, and met with UN military observers in Passabe.

De Mello said at a news conference after his return from Oecussi that the enclave was still suffering from the destruction that occurred there last September. He said that the recent militia incursions involved between 150 and 200 people and were "a serious nuisance." De Mello added that he had asked for additional measures to be taken to deal with the militia in that area.

By the end of February, some 700 Jordanian troops are to be deployed in the Oecussi enclave. Today, a Jordanian advance party of more than 70 soldiers landed in Dili and headed directly to Oecussi; a second contingent of Jordanians is expected to arrive there in two weeks.

In other developments, the first trial of East Timor's customs and immigration system at the Dili airport went smoothly Thursday, as five East Timorese border control officers checked passports and baggage. The officers will officially start regular customs and immigration checks on January 29.

Also, East Timor has won the approval of its own international country code from the International Telecommunications Union; its new code will be 670, although it will take some more time before that code is operational.

COUNCIL MEETING ON DR OF CONGO SCHEDULED FOR MONDAY

There was no meeting of the Security Council today.

On Monday, the Council will begin a week of meetings on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Secretary-General will speak at the opening session on Monday, which is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

The list of speakers is still being organized, and will include Heads of State, Foreign Ministers and a number of States which are not members of the Security Council, in addition to the 15 Council Member States. The Secretary-General's Special Representative for the DRC, Kamel Morjane, will be at UN Headquarters for next week's discussions, and he is expected to attend the noon briefing sometime during the week.

Asked whether DRC President Laurent Kabila would attend next week's meetings, the Spokesman said that the latest information was that he would, but added, "It's anybody's guess." There is no complete list of guests for the Monday meeting yet, he added.

ANNAN WARNS SITUATION IN LEBANON REMAINS VOLATILE

In his latest report on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which was issued today, the Secretary-General warned that the situation in the area remains volatile, although the level of hostility has somewhat reduced, with a decrease in the number of civilian casualties. The Secretary-General urged the parties to continue to exercise restraint and respect the non-combatant status of civilians.

He also drew attention to the serious shortfall in the funding of UNIFIL, with unpaid assessments amounting to almost $109 million.

The Secretary-General recommended extending the mission's mandate to July 31; its current mandate is set to expire on January 31.

UN SOMALIA REPRESENTATIVE TO TRAVEL TO DJIBOUTI

The Secretary-General has decided to send David Stephen, his Representative for Somalia, to Djibouti for two months.

Stephen will provide advice on the organization of the reconciliation conference that is the focus of the peace initiative for Somalia announced at last September's General Assembly by President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti.

The Secretary-General said in a statement issued through his Spokesman that the establishment of a central authority based on wide consultations and agreement will be the only way to reach a lasting settlement to the conflict in Somalia.

UNHCR REPORTS INCREASE IN FLOW OF CHECHENS

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today that the flow of people from Chechnya to Ingushetia increased substantially on Thursday as a fierce battle between Russian troops and Chechen rebels raged in and around Grozny. By 2 p.m. an estimated 2,300 people crossed, the highest daily figure in many weeks. It was not immediately clear whether the group includes residents of Grozny or other areas in Chechnya.

Estimates of the number of displaced Chechens now in Ingushetia range up to 180,000.

UNHCR also expressed concern over the total lack of an international humanitarian and monitoring presence inside Chechnya, which it said makes it virtually impossible to assess the number of civilians remaining in Grozny.

The city has become an active battlefield. According to various rough estimates, up to 20,000 civilians remain inside the city. Most civilians are believed to have been hiding in cellars for weeks, without electricity and adequate food or water.

UN OFFICE ORGANIZES DONKEY TREK IN AFGHANISTAN

Thanks to a convoy of 1,500 donkeys, the Office of the United Nations Coordinator for Afghanistan was able to announce today the successful completion of aid delivery to displaced civilians in the Afghan district of Darra Souf.

That district had been the scene of heavy fighting last year between the Taliban and its opponents, and the United Nations had identified 2,000 families there who needed the most assistance. However, the tricky terrain in that area prevented 36 trucks carrying aid from getting to Darra Souf.

Instead, the UN Office received help from nearby villages, which donated donkeys to carry the aid. Villagers worked day and night for one month to move the aid across the snow-covered passes of Darra Souf; today, we can say that the tents, tarps, blankets and other non-food items needed by those 2,000 families have been delivered.

LEADERS OF KOSOVO PROTECTION CORPS SWORN IN

In Kosovo today, 44 top leaders of the Kosovo Protection Corps were sworn in at a ceremony in Pristina. They took a pledge of honor, committing themselves to serve Kosovo as a civilian emergency response agency. These leaders are to provide immediately a risk assessment survey of the province.

Also in Pristina today, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo announced Kosovo's budget for the year 2000, totalling 562 million deutsche marks.

The Mission also noted the death Wednesday night of the UNHCR Chief of Mission in Kosovo David Riley, a U.S. citizen who appeared to have died in his sleep in his apartment in Pristina.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

In response to a question on the report from the Chairman of the Angola Sanctions Committee that provided evidence that the rebel National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) was responsible for the downing of two UN planes, the Spokesman noted that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) was investigating the matter. "Their investigation is near completion but not yet complete," he said. The United Nations forwarded to ICAO the videotapes of the testimony heard in the Security Council on Tuesday. The Spokesman added that the findings of such investigations are not traditionally made public.

The United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) announced that a representative of the independence movement in Chechnya would meet with reporters at 11 a.m. on Monday, January 24, at the UNCA Club. In a related matter, the Spokesman denied that any officials claiming to represent Chechnya had requested any meetings with UN officials. The United Nations, he added, would only meet with such individuals in a private capacity, not in an official capacity.

Malaysia, New Zealand and Sweden have become the 22nd, 23rd and 24th Member States to pay their regular budget contributions in full for this year. Malaysia made a payment of approximately $1.9 million dollars, New Zealand around $2.3 million and Sweden just over $11.3 million. The other Member States have until January 29 to meet their Charter obligations by making their full assessed payment to the UN regular budget before falling into arrears.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) issued a press release urging increased research in the uses of starches.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) issued a release summarizing the results of an educational review conference for Asian and Pacific countries which ended in Bangkok, Thailand, on Thursday.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

SUNDAY, JANUARY 23

Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), will visit Dili, East Timor, where she will help open a UNICEF-sponsored "Child Friendly Space" and tour UNICEF-supported health and educational programmes. Over the course of the week, she will also visit several sites in Indonesia, and will pay a courtesy call to Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid on Thursday.

MONDAY, JANUARY 24

Beginning on Monday, the Security Council will hold a series of open meetings on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Among the invited participants at the meetings will be the Presidents of Angola, DRC, Namibia, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe; former President Ketumile Masire of Botswana, the neutral facilitator of the Lusaka peace process; and Special Representative of the Secretary-General Kamel Morjane. Discussions are expected to include open meetings today and Tuesday, as well as additional meetings as needed later in the week. The Secretary-General will speak at the opening session on Monday, which is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

At 3 p.m., the Secretary-General will meet with the President and Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), to discuss the business contribution to the Millennium Assembly. A press conference with the ICC is scheduled for 4:00 p.m.

The Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will hold its first regular session for the year from today until Friday.

In Geneva, the Executive Board of the World Health Organisation (WHO) holds its 105th session from today until Friday.

The Commission of Human Rights working group dealing with an optional protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography will begin work. The working group's activities continue through February 4.

In Montreal, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Committee holds its 159th session until February 4.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 25

The Secretary-General is expected to meet with Javier Solana, Secretary-General of the European Union Council and High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, at 3:30 p.m. After the meeting, Solana intends to talk to reporters outside the Security Council.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26

The Secretary-General will leave for Moscow, where he is scheduled to meet with Acting President Vladimir Putin and other senior Russian officials. Moscow is the first stop on a week-long trip, which will also include a visit to Geneva, beginning on January 29, and the Secretary-General's participation in the next round of Cyprus talks in Geneva on Monday, January 31.

The Security Council has scheduled consultations on the UN Missions in Lebanon and Georgia. The mandates of both missions expire at the end of January.

In The Hague, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia will hand down its judgment in the case of Dusan Tadic, a Bosnian Serb who had been sentenced to 25 years in prison.

On the last day of his Presidency of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Franceco Paolo Fulci will hold a special meeting on poverty eradication. He also intends to hold a press conference with Ambassador Makarim Wibisono of Indonesia, ECOSOC Vice President and Fulci's successor as President, at 12:30 p.m. The election of the ECOSOC Bureau will also take place.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 27

The Security Council has scheduled consultations on Iraq.

In Arusha, Tanzania, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda will render its judgment in the case of Alfred Musema, who is charged with nine counts of genocide-related crimes, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The Conference on Disarmament (first part) will hold a plenary meeting in Geneva.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 28

The Security Council is expected to hold formal meetings to extend the mandates of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG). It has also scheduled consultations on the Central African Republic.

In Vienna, the Seventh Session of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of a Convention against Transnational Organized Crime will end. The session dealt, among other subjects, with protocols on trafficking in firearms and on the trafficking of migrants.

In Geneva, the Committee on the Rights of the Child will end its 23rd session.

  • *The guest at today's briefing was Olara Otunnu, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, on the minimum age for children in armed forces.
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