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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-01-08

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

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE NOON BRIEFING

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, January 8, 2001

KOUCHNER URGES MONITORING OF DEPLETED URANIUM RISKS IN KOSOVO

The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said that the United Nations and the Kosovo Force (KFOR) have taken the issue of depleted uranium very seriously since their arrival in June 1999.

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative Bernard Kouchner has made an urgent appeal to the World Health Organization (WHO) to send public health experts to assist in monitoring any possible health consequences of the use of depleted uranium among the civilian population. According to initial findings by WHO and the Kosovo Department of Health, there has been no increase in the incidence of leukemia among adults over the past four years.

Kouchner is also in touch with NATO Secretary-General George Robertson on how to coordinate efforts to approach the issue of depleted uranium.

WHO, in a press conference held in Geneva today, said it does not have enough information about the exposure situation in Kosovo, nor about the number of soldiers involved, to determine if the leukemia rate is higher than normal.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP), whose report on the use of depleted uranium in Kosovo is currently being finalized, will hold a news conference on depleted uranium on Wednesday in Geneva.

ANNAN TOURS NEW OFFICES OF UNOPS

Secretary-General Kofi Annan began his work this morning by taking a guided tour of the new offices in the Chrysler Building of the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the arm of the United Nations that provides management services for the UN system and Member States.

The event began with the Secretary-General and Reinhart Helmke, the Executive Director of UNOPS, cutting a ribbon at the entrance of the new offices. After touring the new UNOPS offices on the fourth and fifth floors of the Chrysler building, the Secretary-General said he was impressed by the innovative use of office space.

UN SIERRA LEONE MISSION MET REBELS OVER WEEKEND

The UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) held two meetings over the weekend with the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) during which RUF representatives reaffirmed their commitment to peace and their willingness to work with the United Nations.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is considering a limited return to a volatile border area in southern Guinea where some 250,000 refugees and displaced persons are in urgent need of food and medicine. A UNHCR team reached the area for the first time in weeks.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Asked about when the Secretary-General might hold a meeting with a high-level delegation from Iraq, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General expects to travel during the last two weeks of January. In comments made upon entering the building today, the Secretary-General suggested the meeting might not take place until next month.

In response to questions about a meeting held today between the Secretary-General and actor Pierce Brosnan, the Spokesman noted that Brosnan had indicated an interest in getting involved in the United Nations, and was today receiving a series of educational briefings on the work the United Nations does in various fields. The Secretary-General today commented on the role celebrities can play in increasing awareness of issues, Eckhard noted.

The Spokesman said, in response to a question, that a meeting held today between the Secretary-General and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright came at Albright's request.

There are no Security Council consultations scheduled for today. On Tuesday, the Council expects to discuss Sierra Leone in its closed consultations and Council President Kishore Mahbubani expects to convene a meeting of the troop contributing countries for the UN Mission of Observers to Prevlaka (UNMOP).

Today, three more Member States have paid their contributions to the regular budget for the current year in full. Egypt has made a payment of over $837,000, Finland over $5.4 million and Norway over $6.7 million, bringing to 9 the number of Member States that have paid in full for this year; also, 139 Member States have paid their contributions in full to the regular budget in the year 2000.

  • The guest at today's briefing was Catherine Bertini, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), who launched a new WFP World Hunger Map and a press release on hunger spots in the year 2001.

    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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