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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-06-07

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

Wednesday, June 7, 2000

SECRETARY-GENERAL DEPLORES SRI LANKA BOMB ATTACK

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement issued through his Spokesman, said he is "profoundly shocked by the reported suicide bomb attack" that took place today in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in which Sri Lankan Industrial Development Minister C.V. Gunaratne, among others, was killed.

The Secretary-General deeply deplored the loss of innocent lives, offered his condolences to the families of the victims and reiterated his condemnation of terrorism from whatever quarter, the statement said.

ANNAN URGES HALT TO FIGHTING IN KISANGANI

The Secretary-General, in a statement read by the Spokesman, voiced his concern at reports of fighting between Rwandan and Ugandan forces over the past two days in Kisangani, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Several UN workers have sustained injuries in the exchange of fire, the statement noted, and the Secretary-General deplored "the loss of life and massive property damage" caused by the fighting. Annan called on both Governments to cease fire immediately and to withdraw from Kisangani in accordance with their agreements.

Despite a cease-fire that went into yesterday evening, fighting broke out between Rwandan and Ugandan troops again at daybreak in Kisangani, according to the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

UN observers in Kisangani said that a shell hit a hospital in the city causing extensive damage, and noted unconfirmed reports that as many as 16 people had been killed and as many as 60 others injured, including children.

Special Representative Kamel Morjane and his team are devoting their best efforts to ensure that those injured in the shelling receive emergency medical assistance and to achieve a lasting cease-fire.

UN ENVOY RETURNING TO NEW YORK AFTER LEBANON TALKS

The Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, Terje Roed Larsen, has left Beirut to return to UN Headquarters in New York. He is expected to arrive in New York later this afternoon.

UN and Israeli experts met into the early hours of this morning in an attempt to resolve one outstanding border issue involving Israel. However, the issue remains unresolved and the experts will need some additional time to sort it out.

Larsen, in a press release issued Tuesday, expressed confidence that all issues surrounding the withdrawal line would be resolved. Once he is in New York, he will report to the Secretary-General on his two-week mission to the region.

Because of the outstanding issue, the four verification teams that were prepared to go to the border to determine whether Israel has withdrawn from Lebanon in compliance with Resolutions 425 and 426 have not gone out on their mission yet. They are prepared to go about their work pending the resolution of that issue.

The United Nations expects that, once the issues surrounding the withdrawal line are resolved, the verification of Israel's withdrawal could be accomplished quickly, possibly within 24 hours.

TRUCKS AND DRIVERS RELEASED IN SIERRA LEONE

The 21 Indian peacekeepers who were moved by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) from Kuiva are reported to be at the eastern town of Pendembu today, and the United Nations looks forward to their early release.

The RUF have released the four trucks, along with their drivers and rations, which had been detained over the weekend while they were traveling to resupply the more than 200 UN personnel at Kailahun, also in the east. The RUF permitted the trucks to return to Daru today.

Sierra Leone Government forces came under offensive action by the RUF late Tuesday night at the northern city of Kabala. The UN Mission spokesman said in Freetown that the closest the action got to the Kenyan peacekeepers stationed in the area was about 800 meters. No casualties were reported. The situation in Kabala was reported quiet but tense this morning.

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES CYPRUS, IRAQ, SIERRA LEONE

This morning, the Security Council began its closed consultations with a briefing by Alvaro de Soto, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Cyprus, who presented an update to the Secretary-General's report issued last week on Cyprus.

That report noted that the third round of proximity talks between Glafcos Clerides and Rauf Denktash, which had been postponed due to health considerations, will now begin in Geneva on July 5. The Secretary-General is also asking the Security Council to extend the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus by six months, until December 15.

After that, the Council discussed the first quarterly report of the activities of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) for Iraq. The Executive Chairman of the Commission, Hans Blix, briefed the Council on the activities of UNMOVIC since his appointment.

The Council also heard a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations H&eacute;di Annabi on the latest developments in Sierra Leone.

Also on Iraq, the Council has been considering a draft resolution on Phase VIII of the "oil-for-food" program and expects to vote on it Thursday, which is the last day of Phase VII of the program. The Council also expects to be briefed Thursday morning on the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and may also receive the text of a draft resolution on the UN Mission in Sierra Leone.

UN-OAU INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ESTABLISHED FOR TOGO

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, as well as Salim Ahmed Salim, Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), announced the establishment of a joint UN-OAU International Commission of Inquiry into allegations that hundreds of people were victims of extra-judicial executions in Togo in 1998.

International experts Mahamat Hassan Abakar of Chad will chair the Commission, whose other members will be Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah of Mauritania and Paulo Sergio Pinheiro of Brazil.

In response to questions, the Spokesman said it was too early to determine whether any international tribunal would be established for Togo, but he expected the Commission to report its findings. He added that the Commission was likely to interview witnesses to the alleged killings.

FIRST STATE BORDER UNIT INAUGURATED IN BOSNIA

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jacques Klein, has inaugurated the first unit of the Bosnia and Herzegovina State Border Service (SBS), in a ceremony at Sarajevo Airport.

Speaking at the inauguration Tuesday, Mr. Klein said that the establishment of Border Service was a crucial step in the fight against trafficking in women and cross-border trade in illegal goods. Without an effective border service, Bosnia and Herzegovina would also continue to be a major transit point for illegal immigration to Europe.

The Service will assume control of the Zvornik, Doljani and Izacic entry points in the next month or so. Expansion will continue until all entry points along the entire border are staffed. Once the Service is complete, some 3,000 police will be present at more than 240 border crossings across the country.

UN DISCUSSING INDONESIAN INVESTIGATORS' VISIT TO EAST TIMOR

A joint UN team dealing with human rights and judicial affairs is in Jakarta, Indonesia, today to meet on Thursday with their counterparts in the Indonesian Attorney General's Office to review arrangements for the visit to Dili of a delegation from the Attorney General's Office.

That delegation is investigating the killing last year of Dutch journalist Sander Thoenes, the church massacres in Suai and Liquica and attacks on the houses of Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo and Timorese businessman Manuel Carrascalao.

Also on Thursday, the Governor of West Timor, Piet Tallo, will visit Dili for one day to meet with the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor and the National Council of Timorese Resistance, on border control, refugee repatriation and other topics.

PROGRESS OF WORLD'S WOMEN REPORT LAUNCHED

The UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) this morning launched this year's UNIFEM report on "The Progress of the World's Women." The report's launch this year coincides with the General Assembly special session to review progress since the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women that was held in Beijing.

The report's 2000 edition says that, over the past decade, only eight nations have successfully met global agreements on two major targets: to achieve gender equality in secondary school enrolment and to have women fill at least 30 percent of the seats in parliament. It also notes that, in 51 out of 59 countries where data was available, women's share in administrative and managerial employment rose during the 1990s compared to the previous decade.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The International Labor Organization (ILO) announced today that ILO Convention 182 (1999), the worlds fundamental international standard on the worst forms of child labor, has been ratified by 27 governments in its first year, obtaining more ratifications than any other ILO Convention during a comparable period. The Convention will come into force on November 19, 2000.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is appealing to donors for $7.5 million to cover the most immediate needs of refugees and displaced persons from the fighting between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

The Office of the Iraq Programme, in its latest weekly update, says that in the week ending on June 2, Iraq exported 19.6 million barrels of oil, bringing total volume exported under Phase VII to 330.1 million barrels, for revenue of around $7.934 billion.

This morning, Mexican Foreign Minister Rosario Green deposited her countrys instrument of ratification to the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, as well as to the Convention and Protocol relating to the State of Refugees.

The Lao People's Democratic Republic has become the 91st Member State to pay its dues in full for this year's regular budget, with a contribution of nearly $10,500.

The guest at Thursday's noon briefing will be UN Legal Counsel Hans Corell, who will discuss the Secretary-General's call for ratification of human rights conventions, particularly on women's rights.

  • The guest at today's briefing were Carolyn McAskie, Acting Emergency Relief Coordinator, Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund, and Catherine Bertini, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, who discussed a consolidated appeal for the drought in the Horn of Africa.
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