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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-01-25

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 25, 2000

ANNAN CHAIRS "MINI-SUMMIT" ON DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Secretary-General Kofi Annan this morning chaired a so-called "mini-summit" of the seven visiting African heads of state on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Also attending that meeting were the visiting Foreign Ministers and the Facilitator of the Lusaka Process, former President Ketumile Masire of Botswana. It lasted from 10:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

Following the noon briefing, the Spokesman in a summary of the meeting, said the seven African heads of state reviewed with Annan the plans of the UN peacekeeping operation in the DRC. (www.un.org/Docs/sc.htm)

They also discussed the need to support the "facilitator" of the Lusaka peace process, former President Ketumile Masire of Botswana -- both politically and financially. The Spokesman said the Secretary-General raised the issue of the regional and international dimensions of the conflict and the need to address the longer term security, humanitarian and development needs of the countries involved. Annan told the meeting that it would be important, at an appropriate time, to deal with those issues at an international conference.

The heads of state agreed to meet again amongst themselves at 4:30 p.m. today.

Earlier today, the Security Council met for about an hour starting around 9 a.m. for informal consultations on a draft Presidential Statement on the DRC. Those consultations continued at the expert level.

The Council could resume its formal session on the DRC if it is able to conclude work on the draft statement. Otherwise, it could meet on Wednesday morning.

In response to questions on a draft resolution in the Council on the DRC, the Spokesman noted that the Council President indicated today that work has begun on a resolution, but that the Council will first deal with the Presidential Statement first.

FIRST UN HUMAN RIGHTS APPEAL TO BE ISSUED

For the first time in its short history, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will launch on Wednesday an appeal to fund its work.

In the foreword to the appeal for $53 million, High Commissioner Mary Robinson says that in the five years of its existence, there has been a dramatic increase in the demands on her office.

Human rights officers are posted in 23 countries and there are some 50 technical cooperation projects around the world.

The Commission on Human Rights has appointed 35 special rapporteurs with thematic or country mandates. Also, the Office of the High Commissioner is responding to requests from an increasing number of countries wishing to establish independent national human rights commissions or institutions.

The High Commissioner adds, "In order to fulfil the demands on the Office, we need to be able to count on continuous, stable funding." The complete text of the appeal is available on the UNHCHR website: www.unhchr.ch.

UN UPDATES IRAQ EXPORTS UNDER OIL-FOR-FOOD PROGRAMME

The Office of the Iraq Programme reported today that, in the week that ended on Friday, January 21, Iraq exported 13 million barrels of oil, for an estimated revenue of $330 million. This brings the total revenue since Phase VII of the "oil-for-food" programme began last December 12 to about $1.6 billion, from the sale of 67.3 million barrels of oil.

On the humanitarian side, the Office of the Iraq Programme has largely been processing contracts for Phase VI. So far, the Iraq Sanctions Committee has approved $1.4 billion worth of humanitarian supplies and put $622 million on hold for that phase.

The weekly update on the "oil-for-food" programme will be issued later this afternoon.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), meanwhile, reported that its team of inspectors in Iraq has finished its work today and will leave Baghdad on Wednesday. The IAEA says that it received full cooperation from Iraq. The inspectors were able to conduct the inventory check of low-grade enriched uranium and natural uranium required under the terms of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.

UNHCR REPORTS MASS DEPARTURES FROM CHECHNYA

Heavy fighting around Grozny is pushing more people out of Chechnya, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). www.unhcr.ch/news/news.htm

More than 8,000 people have fled to Ingushetia over the past four days. On Monday alone, over 2,000 people crossed the border with Ingushetia. Some displaced persons have continued to move back into northern Chechnya, which is controlled by Russian federal troops. However, over the past few days twice as many people have left Chechnya as have gone back, UNHCR reports.

UNHCR also reports that the medical condition of displaced persons in Ingushetia is worsening with reports of more cases of tuberculosis, respiratory disease and other health problems.

UNHCR TO RESUME WORK IN ERITREA

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced today that Eritrean authorities agreed on Monday that UNHCR will resume its work in Eritrea after being absent for more than two and a half years.

During meetings conducted by visiting Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees Soren Jessen-Petersen with Eritrean President Esais Afwerki and other Eritrean officials, it was agreed that UNHCR will focus on the voluntary repatriation of some 147,000 Eritreans registered in refugee camps in eastern Sudan.

UNHCR international staff was expelled from Eritrea in May of 1997 over what Eritrea at the time claimed was UNHCR's undue pressure on reviving the stalemated repatriation of Eritrean refugees from eastern Sudan.

The new agreement could lead to a breakthrough on the repatriation issue, allowing Eritreans from Sudan to go home after more than 10 years in exile.

Meanwhile, UN humanitarian agencies and their partners will launch a new appeal for Eritrea and Ethiopia on Friday in the capitals of those two countries, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

SERBS INFORM UN OF PLANS TO JOIN KOSOVO INTERIM COUNCIL

Following a meeting in Pristina of the Interim Adminstrative Council, Bernard Kouchner told reporters that the Serb community representatives informed him Monday of their plans to join the Council in 10 to 12 days.

Kouchner said that the representatives of the Serb National Council had indicated their wish to vote on the subject of joining the Council in a meeting in Gracanica yesterday.

One of the four Kosovar seats is to be held by a Serb. (www.un.org/peace/kosovo/pages/kosovo1.htm)

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The Working Group in charge of drafting an optional protocol on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography has begun a two-week session in Geneva. Although there is broad agreement on the text of the resolution, there is still no agreement on the concept of the sale of children. Some member states want to limit it to the sale of children for sexual exploitation, while others would like to see a broader definition that would include the sale of children for adoption and the sale of their organs for medical purposes.

The latest UN Weekly Update on Afghanistan, which was issued today, notes the outbreak of an unknown disease -- believed to be measles, but not yet officially identified -- which has claimed at least 50 lives in the Darra Souf district of Samangan province. Local authorities have asked the United Nations to respond to the outbreak, since there are no medical facilities or doctors in the area. Darra Souf is so inaccessible that the United Nations last week delivered aid to the villagers there by a convoy of 1,500 donkeys.

Two more Member States paid their UN regular budget contribution in full. France has become the 30th Member State to pay their regular budget contribution in full by making a sizable payment of approximately $68.8 million. And Hungary became the 31st Member State to make their full payment by submitting a check of close to $1.3 million.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a news release today on efforts to expand its food safety programme. (www.who.int/inf-pr-2000/en/pr2000-04.html)

Also issued today was a press release from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), marking the end of the first 1000 days of the Organisation's existence. Among its achievements has been the inspection and sealing of all of the world's 60 declared chemical weapons production facilities.

The Secretary-General will meet at 3:30 this afternoon with Javier Solana, the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union and former Secretary-General of NATO. Following that meeting, Solana expects to answer reporters' questions at the stand-up microphones outside the Security Council, at around 4:15 p.m.


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