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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-06-09

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

Friday, June 9, 2000

ANNAN URGES SWIFT COMPLETION OF LEBANON VERIFICATION WORK

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement through his Spokesman, said he continued to follow very closely developments on the ground in southern Lebanon. "He believes the parties have come a long way: Israel towards complete withdrawal and Lebanon towards the reassertion of its sovereignty and territorial integrity," the statement said. The Secretary-General voiced his wish that the process be completed as soon as possible.

The United Nations, for its part, has completed the task of drawing up and marking a line on the ground, so as to be able to verify Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon. The verification process has now begun, and the Secretary-General has given instructions to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to complete their task urgently, if possible within the next 24 hours.

Verification is the sole responsibility of UNIFIL, but the task will require the full cooperation of the parties, which the Secretary-General is confident of receiving.

The work of the UN verification teams who are trying to determine Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon has been proceeding, but following a brief postponement due to technical problems which had to be overcome, more work will need to be done Saturday.

UN verification teams continued to work with Israeli experts on Israel's side of the withdrawal line, and other UN teams, in tandem with Lebanese experts, will resume their verification work on the Lebanese side of the line on Saturday.

The Secretary-General is expected to inform the Security Council in writing once the UNIFIL Force Commander, Maj. Gen. Seth-Kofi Obeng, reports to him on the verification teams' work.

UN WORKING TO END FIGHTING IN CONGOLESE TOWN

Despite an agreement by Rwanda and Uganda to cease fire Thursday, fighting raged in the northeastern town of Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for the fifth straight day.

Hundreds of people have been reported dead and wounded and the humanitarian situation is worsening by the day. There is no electricity or running water in the town. Heavy shelling has put a halt to UN humanitarian operations.

The UN Mission in the DRC is working on a humanitarian cease-fire in Kisangani so that urgently needed assistance could be provided to the population.

The heads of the UN Children's Fund, the World Food Programme, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Health Organization, and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in a joint statement, called on all parties to cease hostilities. The officials expressed their dismay in particular at the condition of innocent civilians, including women and children, in Kisangani. The entire population, they said, were under fire.

UN MARKS FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF KOSOVO MISSION

The Secretary-General's report to the Security Council on the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), which was established by the Council on June 10, 1999, was issued today as the Special Representative for Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, briefed the Council in an open meeting attended by the Secretary-General.

While noting that the UN Mission has made "great progress" over the past 12 months, the Secretary-General says that, regrettably, some aspects of Kosovo society have not changed. Kosovo Serbs and other minority communities continue to be murdered, attacked and threatened. UN staff members have been murdered by extremists motivated by ethnic hatred.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which returned to Kosovo a year ago next week to help hundreds of thousands of Albanians begin rebuilding their lives, released together with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) a report on minorities in Kosovo. The report said that Serbs have been disproportionately the victims of violent attacks.

ANNAN URGES PEACEKEEPERS' UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE IN SIERRA LEONE

Following the noon briefing, the Secretary-General, in a statement issued through his Spokesman, said he remains extremely concerned about the encirclement and detention by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) of 11 UN military observers and 245 Indian peacekeepers in Kailahun and Pendembu in eastern Sierra Leone.

"It is absolutely essential that the RUF immediately and unconditionally restore the freedom of movement of the peacekeepers and allow them to join their units," the statement said. "The international community views the detention of UN peacekeepers as a serious crime, and the perpetrators would no doubt be held accountable for their actions."

The Secretary-General called upon regional leaders, in particular President Taylor of Liberia, to do everything possible to seek the release of all peacekeepers held or surrounded by the RUF without any delay

In Kabala, in the north, life appears to be returning to normal following fighting earlier this week. There has been no fighting reported for the past 24 hours, the UN Mission in Sierra Leone reported.

SECURITY COUNCIL VOTES TO EXTEND PROGRAM FOR IRAQ

Late Thursday night, the Security Council voted unanimously to extend the "oil-for-food" program for Iraq by an eighth phase, lasting for 180 days, just before midnight, when Phase VII of the plan expired.

In its resolution, the Council would allow Iraq to spend $600 million from its oil sales to purchase spare parts for its oil industry. The Council also invited the Secretary-General to appoint independent experts to prepare a comprehensive report and analysis of the humanitarian situation in Iraq, by November 26.

SG NOTES REFUGEE RETURN TO BOSNIA IS UNSATISFACTORY

The Secretary-Generals report on the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) noted that, despite significant results in the past 12 months, such as the establishment of the State Border Service and the multi-ethnic Brcko district police force, the rate of return of refugees is still unsatisfactory.

The Secretary-General recommended that the Security Council extend UNMIBHs mandate for a further 12-month period, until June 21, 2001.

The Council will be discussing Bosnia and Herzegovina on Tuesday, when it will be briefed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Jacques Klein.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Next Tuesday, the Secretary-General will contribute a message to a gala dinner at Sotheby's, co-chaired by Steven Spielberg and Elie Wiesel, to aid an Israeli charity, "Chabad's Children of Chernobyl." That group is arranging treatment for children who are suffering from cancer and other ailments as a result of the Chernobyl disaster 14 years ago.

The UN peacekeeping budget on Thursday received a payment from Ukraine for $11.1 million. Although this is not a full payment, it is enough to bring Ukraine above the threshold under Article 19 of the UN Charter, which would trigger the loss of its vote in the General Assembly.

In response to a question on the debts owed to the UN peacekeeping operation to the Congo in the 1960s, the Spokesman noted that the General Assembly had decided that those arrears would be noted in a special account which would not apply to the loss of vote under Article 19. The debts are still on the books, but do not count toward the loss of vote.

Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a special action plan to save the countries of the Horn of Africa and their 13.4 million people from plummeting into a health crisis that threatens to turn the current food shortages into another devastating famine. An investment of just over $25 million would substantially reduce death and illness from preventable diseases and save thousands of lives in the coming months, WHO said.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

Saturday, June 10, 2000

The Secretary-General will travel from Washington, D.C, to San Francisco, California, where he is to attend a commencement reception and dinner at Stanford University.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata will travel to Sudan to begin a two-week, six-nation Africa mission. In Sudan, she will examine UNHCR's operations to assist refugees from Eritrea. After that, she will travel to Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, before returning to Geneva on June 24.

Sunday, June 11, 2000

The Secretary-General will deliver the commencement speech at Stanford University in California. He will also appear at an event in support of the California-based non-profit group Roots of Peace. On Sunday night, the Secretary-General and Nane Annan will be the guests of Scott Cook, the founder and Chairman of Intuit, at a dinner with about 10 Silicon Valley executives in Palo Alto.

While in California, Nane Annan will attend an event to preview her children's book, "The United Nations: Come with Me!" which is to be published later in the summer.

Monday, June 12, 2000

The Security Council will hold a formal meeting to consider the extension of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, the current mandate of which expires on Thursday.

On Monday afternoon, the Secretary-General is expected to return to New York from California.

The UN Commission on International Trade Law will begin its 33rd session.

Tuesday, June 13, 2000

The Security Council will hold a formal meeting to hear a briefing by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jacques Klein. After that briefing, Klein is expected to meet with the press.

The report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is expected.

In Geneva, the Executive Board of the UN Development Programme and UN Population Fund will meet through June 23.

Wednesday, June 14, 2000

The Security Council will hold consultations on Bougainville.

The Security Council is scheduled to hold its monthly luncheon with the Secretary-General.

The Secretary-General's report to the Security Council on Kuwaiti property is due.

Thursday, June 15, 2000

The Security Council will hold consultations and a private meeting on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), on which it will be briefed by Special Representative of the Secretary-General Kamel Morjane.

A briefing on the report of an international panel of information technology experts to the United Nations will take place at 11 a.m. Guests will include Sarbuland Khan of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and Chuck Lankester, the panel organizer.

Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fr&eacute;chette will deliver a speech to the meeting of the Rio Group in Cartagena, Colombia.

Friday, June 16, 2000

The Security Council will hold open and private meetings on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to meet with the Political Committee of the Lusaka Agreement.


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