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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-05-01

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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

Monday, May 1, 2000

ANNAN VISITS CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, LEAVES FOR CAMEROON

This morning Secretary-General Kofi Annan met briefly with the Prime Minister of the Central African Republic (CAR), Anicet Georges Dolegue, first in a one-on-one session and then later with his and the Prime Minister's wider delegations.

The ministers described their plan to resolve internal security problems, such as highway banditry, as part of their efforts to spur economic development. Resources were a problem, the discussants said, noting a shortage of policy and shortage of soldiers. Yet economic growth was getting stronger and the country's infrastructure was being rebuilt. For example, the electricity grid was being expanded thanks to financial help from the World Bank, the Government said.

Donor governments will gather in New York in mid-May, organized by the UN Department of Political Affairs, as part of a peace-building effort in that country.

The United Nations assisted CAR overcome domestic turbulence when the army mutinied a few years ago by deploying a peacekeeping force, which was recently replaced by a Peace-Building Support Office.

The Prime Minister then hosted a luncheon in honor of the Secretary-General, after which the Secretary-General was to meet with members of the National Assembly at the National Assembly Hall.

He was to conclude his visit with a second meeting with CAR President Ange-Felix Patass&eacute;.

Then, in the late afternoon the Secretary-General will fly to Yaounde, Cameroon, for the last leg of his five-nation African tour.

SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS BRIEFING ON MISSION TO KOSOVO

The Security Council this morning went into closed consultations to hear a briefing on the Mission by an eight-member Council delegation to Kosovo, which just returned to New York on Sunday.

Ambassador Anwarul Karim Chowdhury of Bangladesh, head of the delegation, presented to the Council the report of the Mission, which noted that progress to peaceful coexistence remains fragile.

The issue of missing persons, the continuing violence and the return of internally displaced persons and refugees continue to be impediments to reconciliation, the Mission reported. The Mission particularly noted the strong support for the appointment of a special envoy for detainees and missing persons.

Kosovo also requires patience and persistence from the international community, the report added, with only 10 months having passed since the start of the UN Mission there.

The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) issued a news release on the press conference given by the Council delegation as they were leaving Kosovo. At that conference, Special Representative Bernard Kouchner announced the formation of a Joint Committee on Returns of Displaced Persons and Refugees, which is to be headed by Kouchner, Gen. Joun Ortuno, the Commander of the Kosovo Force (KFOR), and Bishop Artemije.

Later today, the Council President for the month of May, Ambassador Wang Yinfan of China, will hold bilateral consultations with other members on the Council's program of work for this month. Those bilateral discussions are expected to continue Tuesday.

ANNAN WELCOMES ANNOUNCEMENT OF CEASE-FIRE EXTENSION IN SUDAN

In a statement issued through his Spokesman, the Secretary-General welcomed the announcement by the Government of Sudan on April 29, which declared a humanitarian cease-fire in Sudan until July 15. He also welcomed the Government's decision on April 19 to suspend air bombings in southern Sudan to protect civilian lives and facilitate the continued delivery of humanitarian assistance to hundreds of thousands of civilians, mostly women and children, by road, air and water.

The Secretary-General trusted that the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement and Army will also extend the humanitarian cease-fire, the statement said, adding that he urged all parties to support the safe provision of aid throughout the country.

UN PEACEKEEPER SERIOUSLY WOUNDED IN SIERRA LEONE

A UN soldier was shot and seriously wounded Sunday, after rebels from the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) surrounded and attacked six troops in northern Sierra Leone.

Ten Nigerian soldiers had deployed along the road near Port Loko to deter AFRC rebels who have been attacking, robbing and harassing civilians along this stretch of road, in the Occra Hills.

Six soldiers patrolling off-road were confronted by about 100 heavily-armed AFRC rebels.

The rebels ordered the sergeant leading the patrol to surrender his weapon. When the sergeant refused, the rebels shot him twice. When one soldier went to summon help, the other four were overpowered and their weapons confiscated. The wounded sergeant is in a serious condition in a hospital, with bullet wounds in one lung and one leg.

The UN Mission in Sierra Leone has protested the incident to President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone and to Johnny Paul Koromah, the AFRC leader, who is now a member of the Government.

FIRST LAND BORDER CROSSING OPENS BETWEEN EAST AND WEST TIMOR

The first land border crossing between East Timor and Indonesia opened today in Batugade. This crossing will be staffed by five international customs and immigration officers and nine Timorese personnel.

On Saturday, the East Timor Postal Service was inaugurated in Dili. The first letters sent were to the UN Secretary-General and the President of Portugal.

On Sunday, the UN Mission reported acts of violence against spectators who were attending a football match. A gang of about 70 people used sticks, clubs and other weapons against the football spectators. Five people were taken to the hospital. UN Police, the Rapid Response Unit and UN troops brought the situation under control and arrested 11 people. Two more people were detained this morning.

As a result of this incident, UN Transitional Administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello has declared a policy of "zero tolerance" against individuals carrying machetes, knives, iron bars, club, and sticks. Vieira de Mello described the attackers as a group of people determined to sabotage the normalization process, but added, "They will not succeed."

ANNAN APPOINTS HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR FOR HORN OF AFRICA

The Secretary-General has asked Manuel Aranda de Silva of Mozambique, a senior staff member with the World Food Programme (WFP), to travel immediately to the Horn of Africa to serve as the UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Drought in the Horn of Africa. He will leave Rome for Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital -- where he will be based -- on Thursday, May 4.

The appointment follows the visit last month to the region by the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Drought in the Horn of Africa, Catherine Bertini, who is also WFP Executive Director.

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS ECE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY

The Secretary-General has decided to appoint Danuta H&uuml;bner as Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe, effective from July 1. H&uuml;bner has been Deputy Executive Secretary at the ECE since November 1998. She will succeed Yves Berthelot, who has indicated his wish to retire from the post.

The Secretary-General, in a statement issued through his Spokesman, acknowledged Berthelot's "distinguished contributions" during his tenure.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Today in the General Assembly plenary, the General Debate of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference resumed after the three-day break during the Orthodox Easter. The debate is also expected to include speeches by representatives of non-governmental organizations on Wednesday, with the debate likely to wrap up by the middle of this week. The Review Conference is to end on May 19.

Nepal has become the 84th Member State to pay its full contribution to the UN regular budget for this year, with a payment of just over $42,000.

A letter was issued today by the President of the Security Council for last month, Ambassador Robert Fowler of Canada, to the Secretary-General, promising that the Council will consider expeditiously his proposal to create a panel to deal with the exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) issued a press release today noting the need for disaster preparedness in Mozambique. Starting Wednesday in Rome, UNDP and the Mozambican Government will start a two-day meeting to build support for a $450 million appeal to rebuild Mozambique following the floods there. President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique has also taken the opportunity of this week's meeting to thank people and Governments around the world for supporting Mozambicans in what he calls "one of the bleakest moments in their history."

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata expressed condolences for former High Commissioner and Prime Minister of Denmark Poul Hartling, who died on Sunday at the age of 85. Ogata called Hartling "a champion for the refugee cause."


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