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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-04-27

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

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY DAVID WIMHURST

ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, April 27, 2000

ANNAN VISITS SCHOOL, CLINIC DURING SENEGAL VISIT

While continuing to monitor the World Education Forum, which he addressed in Dakar, Senegal, on Wednesday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan joined his wife Nane today for visits to a clinic and a school.

This morning, they went to the outpatients center of Fann Hospital, where they were briefed on Senegal's successful fight to contain the AIDS virus. Drawing on strong social structures and cooperative programs involving religious and civic groups, an aggressive government policy over more than a decade has kept the national rate of HIV infections low.

At the clinic, they spoke with distinguished Senegalese medical researcher Souleymane Mboup, who first discovered the existence of an older virus, HIV-2, which is concentrated in West Africa as well as in the former Portuguese colonies farther south.

Nane Annan asked a woman doctor if traditional taboos hadn't made it difficult to carry out a national information program. Of course, the doctor replied, but the danger posed was so great that health professionals had no choice.

The Secretary-General and his wife also had some private time with patients at the clinic. On the way out, traditional communicators, or griots, who were used widely in the anti-AIDS campaign, sang their message.

The Secretary-General told Senegalese television afterwards that he was profoundly impressed with how the government had led such a successful nationwide cooperative effort. The team that had briefed him, he said, had showed solidity and solidarity.

After returning to his hotel, the Secretary-General met with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. They discussed West African security issues, primarily peace efforts in Sierra Leone.

In the afternoon, the Annans were to visit a primary school, headed by a dynamic woman principal, where girls' education was a priority and slightly more than half the students are girls. In the late afternoon, the Secretary-General is expected to meet with Senegalese Prime Minister Moustapha Niasse. This is to be followed by a session with the Foreign Minister, Cheikh Tidiane Gadio.

The Secretary-General concludes his visit to Senegal Friday, and will then travel to the Gambia.

UNICEF CALLS FOR DEBT FORGIVENESS FOR EDUCATION

The Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), Carol Bellamy, today called on the world's donor countries to forgive immediately the debt of poor countries that have a viable plan of achieving the goal of education for all.

Bellamy, who addressed the World Education Forum in Dakar, said that "no country seriously committed to basic education will be thwarted in the achievement of this goal by lack of resources."

SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS MEETING ON EAST TIMOR

The Security Council's open briefing on East Timor has begun, with Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations H&eacute;di Annabi reporting to the Council on the latest developments there.

He told the Council that the overall security situation has been relatively stable, and that the situation on the border with West Timor has improved since a Memorandum of Understanding was signed on April 11 by UN and Indonesian Army officials.

However, the economic and social conditions in East Timor remain a primary concern, Annabi said. Currently, he said, UN quick impact projects employ more than 2,700 East Timorese, while the UN Transitional Administration is in the process of setting up Employment Service Offices in Dili and Baucau.

He also noted that the Mission is discussing with the National Council for Timorese Resistance and other groups the possibility that East Timor could have a small armed force in the future.

Prior to its formal meeting, the Security Council held closed consultations to hear a briefing by Annabi on the incident last weekend in the Makeni-Magburaka area in Sierra Leone. Today, with the arrival of 250 Zambian troops in Freetown, the UN Mission in Sierra Leone now includes more than 8,300 military personnel.

There is no meeting of the Council scheduled for Friday. Unless the Council changes its plans, today's meeting is the last to be held under the Presidency of Ambassador Robert Fowler of Canada. Starting on Monday, the President of the Council for the month of May will be Ambassador Wang Yinfan of China.

SECURITY COUNCIL MISSION BEGINS VISIT TO KOSOVO

The Security Council delegation to Kosovo arrived there today and began their three-day visit with meetings at UN headquarters in Pristina.

Meanwhile, protests by Kosovo Albanians over missing Albanians in Serb prisons entered their second day. Restaurants and businesses were closed in support of the protest in Pristina last night.

Some blockades of roads entering Pristina were reported, but did not hamper the movement of Council members arriving. On Wednesday, the demonstration included the stoning of a UN bus carrying Kosovo Serbs, but there were no injuries.

Asked whether the Council delegation would discuss the regulations that have been promulgated by the UN Mission, the Spokesman said that the delegation would have full discussions with the Special Representative for Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, and could be expected to deal with a wide range of topics, including the regulations.

UN POLICE IN BOSNIA MARK GRADUATION OF FIRST MULTI-ETHNIC CLASS

On Wednesday in Sarajevo, the graduation ceremony for the first multi-ethnic class of Bosnian police took place at the Federation Police Academy.

The one-year course, held under the auspices of the International Police Task Force (IPTF), included six months each of classroom and field training. The 106-member class included 63 Serbs, 8 Bosniaks, 24 Croats and 11 others. Half the class consisted of female cadets.

In his speech at the graduation ceremony, IPTF Commissioner Vincent Couerderoy stressed the importance of making the police forces in the Federation more multi-ethnic and gender-diverse as part of their overall democratization, and he commended the work of the Academy's staff in shepherding this first class through.

The Academy's second multi-ethnic class is ongoing, and the third should begin in July. (For more news on Bosnia, click here.)

OIL COMPANY DEPOSITS $2 MILLION IN UN ESCROW ACCOUNT FOR IRAQ

The sum of $2 million was deposited on Wednesday in the United Nations' 778 Escrow Account by the Royal Dutch Shell oil company. The amount is equivalent to the value of 20 percent of a cargo of oil found aboard the Russian ship "Academik Pustovoyt" by the Multinational Interception Force earlier this month.

This portion of the cargo was determined to have come from Iraq illegally. However, the $2 million deposited by Royal Dutch Shell was not a fine assessed by the United Nations, as had been previously reported in the media. Instead, it was an amount agreed to by the company with the Multinational Interception Force, as equivalent to the value of the illegal amount of oil in the cargo.

The UN 778 Escrow Account, which holds frozen Iraqi assets, was used to pay for humanitarian aid to the northern part of Iraq prior to the adoption of Resolution 986.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

On budget news, Barbados has become the 83rd Member State to pay in full its contribution to the UN regular budget for this year. They made a payment of just over $84,000.

At UN headquarters on Friday, at 1 p.m., Ambassador Robert Fowler of Canada, President of the Security Council for the month of April, will hold a press conference to review the Council's work over the past month.


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