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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-06-28

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE NOON BRIEFING
BY THE DEPUTY SPOKESMAN OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
MANOEL DE ALMEIDA E SILVA
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, June 28, 2000

(Press "Ctrl + R" or click on "reload" to ensure you have the latest summary)


TWO FAO STAFF KILLED IN IRAQ SHOOTING INCIDENT

  • At about 8:30 this morning in Iraq, a gunman entered the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) building in Baghdad and a shootout ensued, in which two FAO staff members were killed and three others FAO staff and four Iraqi guards were injured. Most of the injured suffered gunshot wounds except for one FAO staff member, Mohammed Farah, who was injured while trying to jump out of the building after the shooting began.

  • The gunman held a FAO staff member, Amar Karki of Nepal, at gunpoint in the reception area of the FAO offices for over two hours. The remainder of the staff was kept inside the building during the incident.

  • The gunman, who claimed to be carrying explosives, issued a number of demands relating to the current state of sanctions against Iraq. He said that, if his demands were not met, he would blow up the building.

  • A few minutes after 11 a.m. the gunman surrendered to local police, and he is now in their custody.

  • At the request of the UN Security Coordinator, the Iraqi Government is investigating the incident.

  • The deceased FAO staff have been identified as Yussef Abdilleh, a Somali administrative officer, and Marewan Mohammed Hassan, an Iraqi data specialist. The injured FAO personnel, in addition to Farah, are Fadel Abas al-Rubah and Uday al-Dulaimi, both of whom are Iraqi civil engineers. All the wounded personnel are in the hospital in stable condition.

  • "The Secretary-General deeply deplores this senseless loss of life," the Spokesman said.

  • UN Security Coordinator Benon Sevan informed the Security Council of the incident today, and the President of the Council issued a statement expressing the Council's dismay at the incident and asking for an investigation by the Iraqi Government.


ANNAN ENDS POLAND TRIP, LEAVES FOR HUNGARY

  • Secretary-General Kofi Annan met today with Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek in Warsaw, and they reviewed the objectives of the Millennium Summit scheduled for September. They discussed humanitarian issues, international crime, conflict prevention and the role of civil society in the United Nations, and afterwards held a brief press encounter.

  • The Secretary-General then went to the Polish Parliament, or Sejm, for a meeting with the Speaker of the Parliament, Maciej Plazynski. He then met with the Speaker of the Upper House, Alicja Grzeskowiak and then with Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek. Annan and Buzek focused on environmental issues, on which the Prime Minister has specialized for 30 years, as well as on the Millennium Assembly and Poland's democratic transition.

  • The Secretary-General was then a guest at a luncheon held by the Foreign Minister.

  • Later in the afternoon, he left by plane for Budapest, Hungary.


FORCE COMMANDER IN SIERRA LEONE VISITS DISPLACED AT MILE 91

  • The Force Commander of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone, Maj. Gen. Vijay Jetley, today traveled to Mile 91 by helicopter to assess the situation there, following reports in recent days of fighting near the area between pro-Government forces and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Some 40,000 internally displaced persons have gathered at Mile 91, and humanitarian workers have been concerned by the security situation in the area.

  • There was some indication that some of the displaced persons who had fled upon receiving rumors of fighting in recent days were returning back to the area, which is reported to be calm.

  • The Force Commander addressed a gathering of internally displaced persons at Mile 91, and urged them to remain calm and to organize themselves into manageable communities. He also talked to local humanitarian workers, praising them for their hard work and discussing the area's urgent needs.

  • The UN Mission in Sierra Leone plans to reinforce Mile 91, where two Guinean companies are currently located. Some Nigerian reinforcements have already arrived there, and other troops are expected to arrive during the course of this week.


UNHCR RESUMES ACTIVITIES IN MITROVICA

  • The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) resumed its humanitarian activities in northern Mitrovica this morning. The decision came after Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic assured UNHCR on Tuesday that those responsible for the violence that led to the suspension of activities last Thursday would be brought to justice.

  • The suspension followed a riot in northern Mitrovica on June 21, in which a crowd of Serbs torched and stoned dozens of UN and humanitarian vehicles and scuffled with police.


WESTERN SAHARA TALKS TAKE PLACE IN LONDON

  • Today in London, the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara, James Baker III, began direct talks with the parties to that dispute, Morocco and the Polisario Front, as well as the neighboring countries, Algeria and Mauritania.

  • Today's talks ended in the afternoon and were described as "full and frank." It is expected that the talks could resume at a later date.

  • The Secretary-General, in his last report on Western Sahara, urged the parties to "offer specific and concrete solutions" to the problems that have hindered the implementation of the Settlement Plan. Otherwise, he said, the parties should be "prepared to consider other ways of achieving an early, durable and agreed resolution of their dispute over Western Sahara."


HEARINGS FOR BROADCASTING AUTHORITY SCHEDULED FOR EAST TIMOR

  • A public hearing aimed at creating an Independent Broadcasting Authority in East Timor is scheduled to take place Thursday in Dili. The hearing will be chaired by Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Jean Christian Cady, and will include testimonies from media groups, radio stations and non-governmental organizations.

  • Also, a measles vaccination campaign carried out by the UN Transitional Administration and the Portuguese group AMI has just been concluded in the district of Ermera, where about 1,400 children have been inoculated. To date, some 4,000 children have been vaccinated against measles in East Timor.


SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED BY RENEWED FIGHTING IN SUDAN

  • The Secretary-General, in a statement, expressed concern at the renewed fighting in the Bahr-e-Ghazal area in Sudan between Sudanese Government forces and the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement. He urged all parties to the conflict to desist immediately from fighting in order to save civilian lives and restore the humanitarian ceasefire.

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES BURUNDI PEACE PROCESS

  • The Security Council held informal consultations this morning on Burundi. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast briefed the Council on the internal political situation in Burundi and developments in the Arusha peace process, including the activities of the facilitator, former South African President Nelson Mandela.

  • Following that briefing, the Council heard from UN Security Coordinator Benon Sevan on the shooting incident in Iraq.


OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) today issued revised recommendations on the use of mobile phones, following a recent international conference on the possible health effects of mobile telephones. Among its recommendations, the WHO calls for new studies to confirm recent findings that mobile phones may cause changes in brain activity, reaction times and sleep patterns, and it urges motorists not to use mobile phones while driving.

  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) today announced a new social development programme aimed at promoting sustainable human development at the local and national level. Initially to be funded by a $7.5 million grant from the Italian Government, the Universitas program is intended to train development officials and ILO partners in some 15 developing countries.

  • Rwanda has become the 96th Member State to pay its dues in full to the UN regular budget for this year with a payment today of just over $10,000.

  • The guest at the noon briefing on Thursday will be Kate Raworth, a UN Development Programme (UNDP) economist and co-author of this year's Human Development Report, which is being launched Thursday.

  • Other press conferences Thursday include a UN Population Fund briefing on female genital mutilation at 10:30 a.m., a briefing by the Coalition for an International Criminal Court at 11:15 a.m. and a press conference by UN Transitional Administrator for East Timor Sergio Vieira de Mello at 12:30 p.m.

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* The guest at today's noon briefing was Ambassador Makarim Wibisono of Indonesia, President of the Economic and Social Council, who discussed the "Information Technology for the World" campaign.

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