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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-12-07

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

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE NOON BRIEFING

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, December 7, 2000

ANNAN APPOINTS LEBANON ENVOY, HEAD OF IRAQ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Rolf Göran Knutsson, currently serving as his Personal Representative for Southern Lebanon, as the new Executive Secretary of the UN Compensation Commission. Knutsson will be replacing Jean-Claude Aimée, who is completing his assignment in Geneva. Knutsson is expected to take up his new post, which is at the Assistant Secretary-General level, in January.

The Secretary-General also announced that Staffan de Mistura will replace Knutsson as his Special Representative for Southern Lebanon. De Mistura currently serves as the Director of the UN Information Center in Rome. He is expected to take up his new duties in January.

ANNAN SAYS AFRICA CAN HALT THE SPREAD OF AIDS

The Secretary-General today delivered a message of hope in an address to the Heads of State attending the African Development Forum on HIV/AIDS in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We face a terrible epidemic," he said, "but we are far from powerless to prevent it."

"We can halt the spread of AIDS," he said. "We can reverse it."

He called on the African leaders to make the battle against AIDS "their top priority" and said that the United Nations itself must put the struggle against AIDS in Africa "on an equal footing with our work for peace and security."

He appealed for more awareness of the disease. "We want to hear the big noise of awareness campaigns everywhere," he said, "in every country, in every continent, at every level. We want to make every man, woman and child understand what Africans have understood--that facing up to AIDS is a point of honour, not a source of shame."

In the margins of the Forum, the Secretary-General had bilateral meetings with the Prime Minister of Senegal, Moustapha Niasse, and the Prime Minister of Chad, Nagoum Yamassoum.

This afternoon, he was to be accompanied by Catherine Bertini, the head of the World Food Programme (WFP) and his Special Envoy for the drought in the Horn of Africa. They were to visit the Gemini Trust, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that supports over 1,100 destitute families. He was then to visit a second NGO that supports AIDS victims and orphans, and which is supported by Christian and Islamic denominations.

Friday, the Secretary-General will fly to Asmara, Eritrea.

UNHCR WARNS OF HUMANITARIAN CATASTROPHE IN GUINEA

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) warned today of a looming humanitarian catastrophe in the West African country of Guinea and reported its office in the southwestern town of Gueckedou was destroyed during fighting between government troops and rebels.

UNHCR is trying to determine the status of the agencys local staff members in the town, which came under rebel attack Wednesday. Radio contact with the office in Gueckedou was cut Wednesday. The last massage received from the UNHCR radio operator indicated heavy gunfire in the town of some 31,000. Unconfirmed reports say hundreds of civilians were killed.

The High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata referred to her briefing to the Security Council on November 10 and said that UNHCR and the government of Guinea have been warning for months that the international community must take urgent action to secure this volatile border region.

ANNAN CALLS FOR SIX-MONTH EXTENSION OF UN CONGO OPERATION

The Secretary-Generals report to the Security Council on the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) is published today.

The Secretary-General recommended the extension of the mandate for six months until June 15, 2001.

The report said that during that period, in order to monitor and verify the parties implementation of the cease-fire disengagement plans adopted in recent meetings in Maputo and Lusaka, the UN mission in the Congo would deploy additional military observers. Such a deployment could be carried out within the current mandate. (Resolution 1291 authorizes the expansion of MONUC to consist of up to 5,537 military personnel, including up to 500 military observers).

The Secretary-General also said that in principal he would be prepared subsequently with the guidance of the Security Council to recommend that infantry units be deployed in support of the military observers if conditions both required and permitted such a deployment.

There is a joint meeting of the Security Council and troop contributing countries to the Congo this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. and Council consultations on the report are scheduled for Friday.

GREAT LAKES REGION OF AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST ON COUNCIL AGENDA

This morning the Security Council met in closed consultations for an interactive dialogue on the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

During this meeting, the Council heard from Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region Ambassador Berhanu Dinka as well as the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo Kamel Morjane.

Council members are expected to gather for an afternoon session in closed consultations at 4 p.m. to resume the discussion a draft resolution proposing a UN Monitoring force for the Occupied Territories.

AFGHAN SANCTIONS RESOLUTION INTRODUCED IN COUNCIL

A draft Security Council resolution jointly sponsored by the United States and Russia on Sanctions against Afghanistan was introduced in consultations.

The final study of a report commissioned by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on the humanitarian impact of the current sanctions regime in Afghanistan, Vulnerability and the Humanitarian Implications of UN Security Council Sanctions in Afghanistan will be available to Member States and the media by close of business today, and will be posted OCHAs website, www.reliefweb.int.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

In Geneva, the Governing Council of the UN Compensation Commission (UNCC) finished its 38th session. During this three day session, they commission approved over $208 million in compensation to individuals, governments and international organization for losses resulting from Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait.

The World Food Programme (WFP) says it will launch a new $90-million emergency operation in the Balkans region that gives a significant focus to vulnerable people in Serbia.

An addendum to the report of the Secretary-General on the programme budget for the biennium 2000-2001 was released today. This report presents revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decision adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its 2000 substantive session requesting an additional $770,000.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has announced the award of a grant of about 1,480,000 Euros ($1,300,000) to the voluntary Fund from the European Union. This grant will support the Tribunals outreach programme, Library and Defense Counsel training.  The outreach programme is conducted in all the languages of the former Yugoslavia and aims to strengthen contacts between the Tribunal and communities in the region.

This morning, Peru became the 118th country to sign the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Marshall Islands deposited their Instrument of Ratification for the Statute.

This afternoon, we have one more country signing the Basel Protocol on Liability and Compensation for Damage Resulting from Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. The United Kingdom will be the 12th country to sign.

Albania became the 139th Member State to pay its regular budget assessment for this year in full with a payment of over $31,000.  This is the largest number of member states paying their dues in full in the last 10 years and, we believe, ever.

In response to a question on the possibility of the Secretary-General holding a press conference, the Spokesman said that it was suggested to the Secretary-General that he hold his year-end press conference the week of December 17th. A final date has yet to be approved.


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