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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-06-06
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FRED ECKHARD
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, June 6, 2000
GROUP OF UN PEACEKEEPERS IN SIERRA LEONE MOVED BY RUF FORCES
The overall security situation was reported calm over the past 24 hours in Sierra Leone, but the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) is reporting that 21 UN peacekeepers have been moved from Kuiva, where they had been surrounded by Revolutionary United Front (RUF) forces.
Twenty-one of the 23 Indian peacekeepers who had been surrounded in Kuiva were transferred Monday night to an unknown destination by the RUF.
The exact circumstances of their transfer were not immediately known, but UNAMSIL reported that they were moved out from Kuiva around 7 p.m. local time by truck and jeep. The peacekeepers had with them their equipment, which consisted of a rifle, sidearm and backpack each. They were apparently told that they would be moved to the town of Pendembu to meet with their force commander. Since then, there has been no contact with the group.
The two other Indian peacekeepers at Kuiva had been part of the supply convoy that went to Kailahun over the weekend. That convoy of 10 personnel, along with 224 personnel of the Indian battalion and 11 military observers, remains surrounded by RUF forces in Kailahun. Their situation remains unchanged.
ANNAN EMPHASIZES NEED FOR FREE MOVEMENT BY ALL PEACEKEEPERS
Secretary-General Kofi Annan spoke this morning with Liberian President Charles Taylor, who was entrusted by other West African heads of state to facilitate the release of all detained UN personnel.
The Secretary-General emphasized to President Taylor that all restrictions on the movements of UN personnel must be lifted and that anyone who mistreats peacekeepers will be held accountable.
Asked why the United Nations hasn't used force in the standoff, the Spokesman emphasized that the UN Mission is not in Sierra Leone to make war on the RUF. As long as there is a prospect to resolve the situation by peaceful means, he said, that would be the preferred course.
The call to Taylor, he noted, underscored that the job to end the detainee situation through diplomacy has not been completed, since UN personnel must be free to move. He noted that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had asked Taylor to take the lead in obtaining the release of all detainees.
In response to a question about Taylor's role, the Secretary-General is not worried about the Liberian leader's role, but is "grateful to President Taylor for what he's been able to do, and he's pressing him to finish the job."
He added that the movement of the 21 personnel could follow the same pattern as that of other peacekeepers who have been released, first through Foya in Liberia and then to Monrovia, the Liberian capital.
The Spokesman said, in response to a question, that the Security Council had explored the question of what levels of force strength may be needed to deal with contingencies during its weekend retreat with the Secretary-General. He said that there may be "a shift in thinking when it comes to the planning and design of peacekeeping missions," particularly with the completion this summer of a report on UN peace operations by a panel led by Lakhdar Brahimi.
UN COMPLETING TASK OF MARKING LINE IN LEBANON
Today in southern Lebanon, UN experts are carrying out their final activities in marking relevant portions of a withdrawal line on the ground for the purpose of confirming Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in accordance with Security Council Resolutions 425 and 426.
The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is preparing to deploy its troops to verify Israel's withdrawal once the marking of the "practical line" is completed, which is expected to happen later today. Four UN companies are ready to undertake verification activities as early as tomorrow, and, if all goes well, that verification exercise is expected to last no longer than 24 hours.
The Secretary-General intends to inform the Security Council of a withdrawal, once it is confirmed, in a letter to the President of the Council.
In Beirut today, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, Terje Roed Larsen, is about to resume a meeting with Lebanese President Emile Lahoud and Prime Minister Selim el-Hoss. The meeting -- which had adjourned briefly to allow Larsen to hold a press conference, which just ended -- was described as "very constructive."
In a statement issued at the press conference, Larsen said that the Lebanese and Israeli Governments are being provided with the map of the withdrawal line that UNIFIL will use to confirm Israel's withdrawal in compliance with Resolution 425. He said he did not expect it to take long to complete that task, and added that once it is completed, the Force Commander will report to the Secretary-General.
Among his other meetings today, Larsen is expected to meet with the Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Nabih Berri, and with several ambassadors. Larsen is due at UN headquarters in New York Wednesday.
The situation on the ground in Lebanon remains calm, the UN Mission reported.
Asked about media accounts that Lebanon is unhappy with the UN line, the Spokesman said, "We're confident that the remaining issues can be resolved and that they will be resolved." He said that the process remains on track, and that confirmation of Israeli withdrawal could occur by the end of the week.
ANNAN VOICES CONCERN OVER VIOLENCE IN SOLOMON ISLANDS
In a statement issued through his Spokesman, the Secretary-General said he was closely following developments in the Solomon Islands, where Governor General Father John Lapli and Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa'alu have been taken hostage.
The Secretary-General expressed concern over the escalation of violence and urged that the hostages be released immediately and Constitutional rule restored. Annan also called on the militant factions to resume the peace talks facilitated by the Commonwealth.
SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES IRAQ, CONGO
The Security Council began its work this morning with consultations on Iraq, with a briefing by the Executive Director of the Office of the Iraq Programme, Benon Sevan, on the report of the Secretary-General on the oil-for-food program. The Chairman of the Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Arnold Peter van Walsum of the Netherlands, also briefed the Council.
A draft resolution on Phase VIII of the oil-for-food program was introduced and a vote is expected later this week. Phase VII of the program expires on Thursday.
UN MISSION IN DRC REPORTS FIGHTING IN KISANGANI
Security Council members were also briefed on developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hédi Annabi noted recent developments that have had an impact on the deployment of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, notably the fighting in Kisangani and the difficulties encountered in the inter-Congolese dialogue.
The UN Mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reported that fighting broke out Monday between Rwandan and Ugandan forces in Kisangani. Uganda and Rwanda had agreed to demilitarize the city of Kisangani at the end of last month and the UN had stepped up efforts to dispatch a battalion to that city and had increased the number of military observers there to 16. The UN Mission reported that a shell struck a house in which the UN military observers were housed. So far no casualties have been reported from that incident.
Fighting was reported again today in Kisangani. One shell struck a radio station behind the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) office in Kisangani earlier today. Four people, including two UN staff, one each from UNICEF and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Activities, were injured by glass splinters and falling debris. The wounded are being taken care of by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Fighting was reported about 300 to 500 meters from the UN compound, with approximately 10 shells and 300 bullets being fired per minute.
Efforts by the neutral facilitator, former President Ketumile Masire of Botswana, to carry out his mandate regarding the inter-Congolese dialogue have run into difficulties. The DRC Government has refused to take part in the preparatory committee convened by Masire in Cotonou, Benin, on Monday and today. In addition, representatives of civil society and political parties from the DRC have not been allowed to leave the country to participate in the meeting.
ETHNIC VIOLENCE REPORTED IN KOSOVO FOLLOWING GRENADE ATTACK
In the latest incident of ethnic violence in Kosovo, a grenade was thrown from a car in the Serb town of Gracanica, triggering a melee that resulted in a number of Serbs being injured.
The Secretary-General's Special Representative for Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, who will be briefing the Security Council on the first anniversary of the UN presence in the province, is also facilitating a visit by a small group of moderate Serbs from the province to present their story while in New York.
UNHCR NOTES WORSENING SITUATION IN ERITREA
According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the humanitarian situation in Eritrea has worsened over the past week, with new population displacements occurring in the southern Red Sea districts around Assab. A new outflow into eastern Sudan has also been reported.
In Eritrea, the condition of many internally displaced persons is worsening despite efforts by the local population and aid agencies. UNHCR is purchasing salt, sanitary supplies, kitchen sets, bedding and other relief items on the local market for distribution by the end of this week. It is also preparing an airlift, which could begin as early as next week, of non-food relief items directly to Eritrea, including water tankers and additional trucks from the agency's operation in Kosovo.
UNHCR's third relief flight to Sudan arrived today with 4,500 plastic sheets and 12,000 blankets. The next flight is expected on Thursday.
UN LAUNCHES $67 MILLION APPEAL FOR AFGHANISTAN
The United Nations has launched a $67 million appeal to help address the worst drought to strike Afghanistan since 1971. New assessments show that the situation is even more widespread than previously estimated and the entire country has been seriously affected.
According to Ahmad Farah, Acting UN Coordinator for Afghanistan, between now and June 2001, at least half of the country's population may be affected by the drought.
Farah noted that only about one-third of the needs identified in the 2000 Consolidated Appeal for Afghanistan had been met so far.
The Spokesman added, in response to a question, that the UN system for humanitarian assistance is monitored to ensure that aid is not diverted.
The World Food Programme announced today that the Hunger Site, the world's leading "click-to-donate" web site celebrates its first anniversary this month. In the past 12 months, more than 80 million people have clicked on the Site in over 180 countries. Together they have generated more than $3 million in pledges, enough to provide 150 million cups of food for the world's hungry.
Deputy Spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva has returned to New York, after working for six months as the Spokesman for the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor.
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