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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-12-12

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 FROM THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MARIE OKABE

ASSOCIATE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, December 12, 2000

ANNAN IN ALGIERS HAILS ETHIOPIA-ERITREA ACCORD SIGNED TODAY

Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed the signing in Algiers of the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea as a "victory for the voice of reason, for the power of diplomacy and for the recognition that neither one of these countries -- nor the continent as a whole -- can afford another decade, another year, another day of conflict."

Speaking at the signing ceremony in Algiers this afternoon, the Secretary-General said that already, nearly 1,800 UN troops and military observers are in place in Ethiopia and Eritrea, with the number to grow to more than 4,000 peacekeepers in the weeks ahead.

Annan also drew attention to the humanitarian crisis facing both countries, with hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons requiring emergency assistance

The Secretary-General is expected back in Rome this evening where he will overnight before heading back to New York Wednesday.

SECRETARY GENERAL OPENS UN CRIME CONFERENCE IN SICILY

Earlier this morning, the Secretary-General had been in Palermo, Italy, where he addressed the opening session of the signing conference for the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

He warned the Heads of State and Government gathered for the ceremony of the forces of "uncivil society" -- including terrorists, criminals, and drug and human traffickers -- who can undo the good work of civil society.

He said that the Convention being signed at Palermo will provide a new tool to address the scourge of crime as a global problem, and urged all States to ratify the Convention at the earliest possible date.

The Secretary-General also announced that 25 percent of the value of all Italian confiscation of illicit assets will be donated to the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention.

UN ENVOY TO BOSNIA PLANS COMPLETION OF MANDATE IN TWO YEARS

The Security Council met this morning for an open meeting on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Council members heard a briefing by Jacques Klein, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina and head of the UN Mission there.

Klein presented to the Council the latest report on the operations of the UN mission in Bosnia (UNMIBH). Klein told the council of the UN mission's achievements and informed them of his planning for the future.

Among the accomplishments he underlined was the return of refugees and displaced persons. In the first 10 months of this year, he said, over 46,000 minorities have registered, twice the number of last year. He added that some of these returns are taking place in areas with a difficult history such as Srebrenica, Prijedor and Zepa.

Klein also pointed out that full freedom of movement within the country, which is now taken for granted, has facilitated commerce and the restoration of normal links.

Turning towards the future, Klein said the progress already made has enabled him to think about an end-point. We have prepared, he said, as an internal and evolving document, a plan for the completion of our core mandate in a two year time frame.

Under the format agreed upon for this meeting, the Council heard from the representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also, at todays session, the United States was represented by Senator Joseph Biden.

In the afternoon, the Security Council will gather for closed consultations to discuss a draft resolution on the renewal of the UN peacekeeping mandate in Cyprus and a draft resolution welcoming todays signing of a peace treaty between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

UNICEF ISSUES STATE OF WORLDS CHILDREN REPORT

Today in New York, Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), launched UNICEFs State of the Worlds Children 2001 report, which notes that 11 million children die every year from preventable causes, 170 million children are malnourished and 1 out of every 10 children have disabilities.

Bellamy said, The future of any nation is directly linked to the future of its children and by investing in children and in the families that sustain them, a nation is ultimately investing in its own development. Bellamy also called on governments, civil society organizations and the private sector to join in waging an all-out battle against the spread of HIV/AIDS. Copies of the report are available from the Spokesmans office or from Shantha Bloumen (326-6949) at UNICEF.

IMPACT OF SANCTIONS STUDIED BY AFGHAN SANCTIONS COMMITTEE

This morning, the Security Councils Afghanistan sanctions committee met to be briefed by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on the impacts of the current sanctions regime on UN operations in the country.

Also on Afghanistan, the Secretary-Generals Personal Envoy for Afghanistan reports that while attending a conference in Turkmenistan, he had an unexpected opportunity on Sunday for a general exchange of views between the Taliban and United Front.

This was the first face-to-face meeting between the delegations of the Taliban and the United Front in over a year and while not an official session of the process of dialogue, it was held within the framework of the agreement signed by the two parties last month.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that intensified fighting in northeastern Afghanistan combined with drought has driven the largest group of Afghan refugees into Pakistan since the Taliban took Kabul in 1996. The current total is some 47,000 since September.

In response to a question as to when the Security Council will discuss the joint U.S.-Russian draft on sanctions against the Taliban regime, the Spokeswoman said that, as far as she knew, no date had yet been set for a vote.

In response to a question on the possible plans by the UN to evacuate staff from Afghanistan as a security precaution relating to the possible implementation of further sanctions, the Spokesman said that, according to the UN humanitarian office for Afghanistan, that despite existing security arrangements, if additional sanctions are enacted, it is likely that the risk to UN personnel, premises and property might increase. If this were to be the case, the United Nations would be compelled to reduce the numbers of staff in the field, or even to evacuate international staff.

ANNAN DISPATCHES ENVOY TO LOOK INTO GUINEA BORDER SITUATION

In a statement issued through his Spokesman, the Secretary-General expessed his grave concern over the situation in Guinea. He condemned the brutal attack on the town of Kissidougou on 10 December and said he deeply regrets the loss of innocent lives and the displacement of thousands of Guinean civilians, the statement said.

The Secretary-General has asked Oluyemi Adeniji, his Special Representative in Sierra Leone, to travel to Guinea and Liberia as his Special Envoy, according to the statement. Adeniji will assess the situation on the ground and make recommendations to the Secretary-General on how best the United Nations could help the Governments concerned and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), to stabilize the situation, it said.

Meanwhile, UNHCR is still trying to establish the whereabouts of two security guards missing since the attack on its office in Gueckedou last Wednesday. UNHCR also draws attention to the fact that attacks over the past 10 days have been reported further and further inside Guinea, including fighting in the town of Kissidougou in southwestern Guinea on Sunday, sending tens of thousands of refugees as well as local people into flight.

UN IN SIERRA LEONE HOPES TO RECOVER EQUIPMENT FROM RUF

The UN mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) reported that since the meeting last Friday between the Force Commander of the UN mission Lt. Gen. Daniel Opande and the interim leader of the rebel Revolutionary United Front Issa Sessay, the RUF has opened road between the towns of Magburaka and Mile 91. The UN mission said that civilian traffic has been noticed on the road and sees this development as a positive sign.

Wednesday, the Force Commander will travel to Magburaka to recover equipment that had been stolen by the RUF from the UN Mission, as was promised by interim RUF leader in last weeks meeting.

IRAQ CONTINUES TO HALT EXPORT OF ITS OIL

The Office of the Iraq Programme (OIP), in its weekly update, says that Iraqs suspension of its oil exports under the United Nations oil-for-food programme continues into the 12th day. Iraq has not given an explanation for the continuing suspension of its oil exports.

The Memorandum of Understanding of May 1996 was formally extended Monday between the United Nations and the Government of Iraq for an additional 180 days. The extension covers the current phase IX, which came into effect on December 6.

GEORGIA SAYS TWO KIDNAPPED UN OBSERVERS ARE ALIVE AND WELL

Georgian authorities today have informed the United Nations of their efforts to contact parties who are believed to have taken hostage two military observers, belonging to the UN Mission in Georgia (UNMOGIP), who have been missing since they were patrolling the Kodori Valley on Sunday.

The Georgian authorities have reported that the two UN military observers are alive and well. Efforts are continuing to secure their prompt release.

ANNAN WELCOMES CLOSURE OF CHERNOBYL NUCLEAR PLANT

In a statement released through his Spokesman, the Secretary-General says he welcomes the decision by the Government of Ukraine to close the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on 15 December 2000, as an important step towards achieving global nuclear safety.

The Secretary-General hopes, the statement added, that continued support will be provided to help Ukraine alleviate the economic and social problems stemming from the plant closure.

It concluded with an appeal to all Governments to give nuclear safety the highest priority so as to prevent any recurrence of this kind of disaster.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS:

The Secretary-General will hold his traditional year-end press conference on Tuesday, December 19th at 11 a.m. at UN Headquarters.

Last night in East Timor, an Australian peacekeeper from the UN mission (UNTAET) was injured by what is believed to have been a grenade thrown at a UN position. Private Chris Carter suffered minor shrapnel wounds from the grenade attack, which took place at Aidabaleten, about 60 km west of Dili. He was immediately brought by helicopter to the UN Military Hospital in Dili, and his condition is described as satisfactory. As a result of a UN investigation, two suspects have been apprehended.

The International Donors Conference on Burundi is wrapping today in Paris. The conference, hosted by President Jacques Chirac of France, is being held under the co-chairmanship of Nelson Mandela, facilitator of the Burundi of Peace process, the World Bank and the UN Development Fund (UNDP). Also attending are major donors as well representatives of the Burundian governments and the parties signatories to the 28 August Arusha accords.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055


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