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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-05-16

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

OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, May 16, 2000

RELEASED SIERRA LEONE DETAINEES TRAVELING TO LIBERIAN CAPITAL

Some of the 139 released UN military personnel, who had been detained in Sierra Leone, have now been ferried to Monrovia, Liberia, from Foya, a Liberian border town. By the noon (New York time) , 25 former UN detainees have been transported by Liberian helicopter from Foya to Monrovia, where there were already 15 other released UN personnel. More flights were planned for later today.

The United Nations has yet to receive confirmation about the condition of those released.

Sierra Leone was reported free of fighting for a 24-hour period.

As part of the strengthening of the UN force on the ground, by midday, about 150 members of the Indian battalion had arrived in Lungi. Another 600 are expected Wednesday.

The UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) also reported that all international civilian staff who had been relocated to Banjul, Gambia, last week had returned to Freetown.

The Secretary-General's report to the Security Council on Sierra Leone is being finalized today for distribution to Security Council members, which may happen as early as Wednesday.

Asked about further contact between Liberian President Charles Taylor and the Secretary-General, the Spokesman noted that the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Oluyemi Adeniji, has been in Monrovia to coordinate arrangements for the released detainees.

In response to questions, the Spokesman noted that there are no further signs of movement on the roughly 350 UN personnel who remain in detention, and that the United Nations currently is trying to provide care for those who have just been released. There is also no word on Revolutionary United Front leader Foday Sankoh's whereabouts, he said.

Asked about the location of detainees, Eckhard noted that one group of Zambians was believed to have been taken to Koidu, in the east, while UNAMSIL lost contact with another group of Zambians.

The Spokesman said, in response to a question, that documents retrieved from Sankoh's house are now believed to be in the hands of the Government of Sierra Leone.

UN STAFF MEMBER OF SERBIAN ETHNICITY IS MURDERED IN KOSOVO

The Secretary-General's Special Representative for Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, said in a statement issued in Pristina after the noon briefing: "This evening I received the shocking and appalling news that one of our UNMIK staff members, a young man of Serbian ethnicity, has been murdered.

"Petar Topoljski was 25 years old. He worked for the UNMIK Pristina Regional Administration. He disappeared a week ago from his office. UNMIK Police had indications he may have been kidnapped, and police investigators were deployed in the search. A body found in Rimaniste village was identified today as his.

"This news is a terrible blow, not only to the family and friends of Mr. Topoljski, but also to all the staff at UNMIK. We have tried to create the conditions of security for all our staff. But those intent on killing have found a way to their goal.

"I condemn in the strongest terms this attack on one of our staff members, particularly one of our Serbian staff, who are dedicated to their work, in spite of the threats and isolation which they must endure here. "

SECURITY COUNCIL TO MEET ON ERITREA-ETHIOPIA CONFLICT

There are no Security Council consultations this morning. However, the members of the Council on Monday afternoon received two draft resolutions concerning the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and Council members have been considering both draft texts.

At 11 this morning, the Council had meetings at the Experts Group level on those drafts.

Security Council consultations on Ethiopia and Eritrea will take place at 4 p.m. this afternoon.

The Council was also informed Monday by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast that, three days after the Council had condemned the resumption of conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the two nations continued to fight at several points along their border.

On Wednesday, the Council will hold an open debate on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, at which U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke, who led the seven-member Council delegation to the region last week, will formally present the report of that mission's travels.

UNICEF APPEALS TO COMBATANTS IN SRI LANKA TO SPARE CHILDREN

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) today appealed to all sides of the conflict in Sri Lanka to treat young people as "zones of peace" and to end use of children as soldiers.

Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF, says that children are "being forced to feel the heat of battle" in Sri Lanka, where fighting for the town of Jaffna over the last few days has been putting children and women at enormous risk.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said it is deeply concerned about the situation of civilians in Jaffna. It reported that two of its international staff today moved from their Jaffna office to a medical center that UNHCR had repaired northwest of the Jaffna peninsula where evacuees have encamped. Radio broadcasts from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have urged civilians and international aid workers to move to the northern and western part of the peninsula. .

Most of the displaced appeared to have found accommodation with friends and relatives. A small number are in collective centers, such as schools, public buildings, temples and churches.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC MEETING CONCLUDES

The two-day special meeting on the Central African Republic ended today with the announcement of donations to strengthen security and development in that country.

The meeting, which was co-sponsored by the United Nations, Germany and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), included a detailed discussion by the Government of the Central African Republic on its plans to restructure its defense and security forces and to alleviate poverty. In addition, donors took the occasion to announce pledges in excess of $33 million.

The head of the Central African Republic delegation, Prime Minister Georges-Anicet Dologu&eacute;l&eacute;, will also meet with the Secretary-General this afternoon.

NEW HEAD OF UN OFFICE IN BURUNDI NAMED

The Security Council today concurred with the Secretary-General's intention to appoint Jean Arnaud as his Representative and Head of the UN Office in Burundi.

Arnaud has been the Special Representative in Guatemala since 1997, having been involved since 1992 in the peace negotiations that resulted in a comprehensive peace plan in December 1996. He replaces Cheikh Tidiane Sy, who was named head of the new UN Peace-Building Support Office in the Central African Republic. Arnaud will take up his duties on June 1.

INDONESIA PROMISES BETTER DISTRIBUTION TO WEST TIMOR CAMPS

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that Indonesian officials today told East Timorese refugees the Government will improve distribution of food rations and basic services in the camps in West Timor.

A total of 267 East Timorese refugees were scheduled to sail later today from the West Timor province capital of Kupang for Dili in East Timor. This is the first repatriation by ship to Dili since April 28, when the pace of returns began to slow down sharply.

The total number of returns since October exceeds 161,000, but the overall rate of returns remains extremely low.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The Secretary-General visited Saint Charles Boromeo School in Harlem this morning. He addressed several hundred young children, visited their classrooms and took and posed questions. On returning, he said the children "talked about dreaming -- we do a lot of that here -- and that one must dream and that one should get an education, and that they can be anything they want to be. And if you fail, try a little harder."

Mary Robinson, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, this morning signed a memorandum of intent on technical cooperation with the Government of Brazil. This is a first step toward allowing the Office of the High Commissioner to provide technical advice to Brazil on human rights. Robinson also met with President Fernando Henrique Cardoso during her visit to Brazil.

The Office of the Iraq Programme noted, in its weekly update on Iraqi oil sales, that in the week ending May 12, Iraq exported a total of 13.9 million barrels of oil worth around $352 million.

  • The guest at today's briefing was Ivo Petrov, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Tajikistan, who discussed the just-concluded UN Mission of Observers in Tajikistan.
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