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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-01-09

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:






Tuesday, January 9, 2001


Following his participation at the France-Africa Summit in Yaoundé, Cameroon, on January 17th and 18th, Secretary-General Kofi Annan will go on to four more countries from January 20th to the 30th.

The Secretary-General, accompanied by Mrs. Annan, is planning to visit Beijing, China from January 20-22 January and then Tokyo until January 25. In both countries, the Secretary-General will have a range of meetings to discuss current issues involving the United Nations.

From Tokyo, the Secretary-General is scheduled to travel to Davos, via Zurich, Switzerland, to attend the annual World Economic Forum.

He will deliver an address on Sunday the 28th during which he will urge international business leaders to play a more active role in giving the poor of the world a chance to benefit from globalization.

His final stop is scheduled to be the Swedish capital of Stockholm, where he will meet with the authorities and give an address at the Stockholm International Forum on Combating Intolerance. The need for inclusiveness and diversity, including giving proper treatment to immigrants and asylum seekers, is expected to be addressed. The results of the inter-governmental conference will be submitted to the UN World Conference on Racism later this year.

The Secretary-General is expected to return to New York on Wednesday, January 31.

In response to a question about the specific subjects that the Secretary-General will discuss during his planned trip to China, the Spokesman answered that the talks would cover a broad range of issues.


Following the just concluded visit to Myanmar of his Special Envoy for that country, Razali Ismail, the Secretary-General issued a statement through his spokesman in which he said he was encouraged to learn that during his mission his envoy was able to confirm that representatives of the Government and Aung San Suu Kyis National League for Democracy (NLD) had started a direct dialogue last October.

According to the statement, the two sides are satisfied with the results achieved so far in the area of confidence building. The two sides are expected to start more substantive discussions shortly.

During his stay in the capital Yangon, the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy held talks with representatives of the Government, including Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, Secretary-1 of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), and Foreign Minister Win Aung.

Razali also held two meetings with Aung San Suu Kyi. These meetings were the first contact by an outside visitor in nearly three months.

The Secretary-General reiterated his call for the two sides to seize the momentum and work to achieve national reconciliation in Myanmar at an early date. He also appealed to the international community to continue to support the on-going process of dialogue.

In response to a question on possible follow-up trips to the country by the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy, the Spokesman answered after the briefing that there would be another trip soon.

In response to a question on whether Aung San Suu Kyi herself had met with members of the Government, the Spokesman answered after the briefing that she had met directly with Lt. Gen Khin Nyunt.


The Security Council held closed consultations today on the humanitarian situation in Guinea along its borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone, on which it is being briefed by the new UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Ruud Lubbers. The Secretary-General attended the session and introduced Lubbers to the Council members.

Then, the Council was given a briefing on Sierra Leone by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno. Guéhenno briefed the Council on the latest developments, including the UN Mission's contacts (UNAMSIL) with the Revolutionary United Front as well as the UNs involvement in efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to deploy interposition forces along the borders of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.


The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today reported that one of its radio operators in Guinea has been missing since a December 6 rebel attack on the town of Gueckedou in southern part of the country. In the initial confusion following that attack, the whereabouts of the local staff member Joseph Loua were not clear. A subsequent inquiry by UNHCR security officials revealed that he had been abducted by the attackers.

UNHCR announced it was sending an emergency team to Guineas volatile bec de perroquet (parrots beak) area, where up to 250,000 refugees and internally displaced people are in urgent need of food and medical supplies. The situation in the area, briefly visited by UNHCR security officials last week, is believed to be much worse than elsewhere in Guinea, as no assistance has reached it since early December.


In Kosovo, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative, Bernard Kouchner, while visiting the town of Klina, announced the creation of a working group comprised of Albanians and Serbs which will work with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other agencies to examine the possible health effects of Depleted Uranium ammunition on the civilian population.

Kouchner also said that he has a number of conversations with Lord Robertson, NATOs Secretary-General, on the issue. The agreed to invite several specialized Non-Governmental Organizations to examine the issue in Kosovo.

While in Klina, Kouchner was given a demonstration by Italian troops of their Nuclear Biological and Chemical weapons unit, which has been involved in looking for traces of radiation at sites where Depleted Uranium ammunition was used.

The UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) announced that its Executive Director, Klaus Toepfer, and Pekka Haavisto, the Chairman of Balkans Task Force, will be holding a press on conference in Geneva this Thursday to bring reporters up to date on the issue of depleted uranium. The Task Forces report is due out in March of this year.

In a response, to a question on what measures the United Nations has taken to protect its workers in Kosovo and Bosnia against the effects of Depleted Uranium, the Spokesman said we had no information on the use of Depleted Uranium in Bosnia so that our efforts are concentrating on Kosovo. The Spokesman added that we have not noticed any ill effects on the health of UN staff in Kosovo, but we will take whatever measures are necessary and make recommendations for the civilian population. At this point, the Spokesman concluded, we do recommend that people stay away from sites where Depleted Uranium ammunition is known to have been used.

In response to a question on what the United Nations is doing to prevent this sort of situation from arising again in the future, the Spokesman answered the United Nations had taken early action on this issue when in 1999, the Secretary-General personally asked the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) to look into the issue of the possible negative environmental impact of the Kosovo bombing.


The Office of the Iraq Programme (OIP) issued its weekly update today, which showed that Iraqi oil exports under the United Nations oil-for-food programme continued to be slow during the week of December 30, 2000 to January 5, 2001. In the current phase IX, which began on December 6 and ends on June 3, 2001, Iraq has exported 17.7 million barrels, earning an estimated $333 million in revenue.

The 661 Iraq Sanctions Committee at a formal meeting yesterday discussed the Iraqi request for the allocation of one billion euros for assistance to the Palestinians from oil-for-food programme funds. The discussion will continue at a subsequent meeting of the Committee to be scheduled next week.


Afghan refugees fleeing fighting and drought in northern Afghanistan continue to stream into Pakistan, at a rate of 200 to 250 people a day, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

More than 60,000 new Afghan refugees fled to Pakistan during the last four months of 2000, and about three-quarters of the new arrivals are ethnic minorities, mainly Tajiks and Uzbeks.

UNHCR is moving some 18,000 refugees from the Jalozai transit camp in Pakistan, where some children reportedly died as temperatures in the border region fell below zero. The refugees should be transferred to other camps by the end of this week.


Wednesday in East Timor, the first preliminary hearings of persons suspected of committed serious crimes following the popular consultation in 1999 will take place at the District Court in Dili.

Two more member States have paid in full their regular budget contributions for the year 2001. The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea has made a payment of over $93,000 and Denmark has made a payment of more that $7.7 million, bringing the number of fully paid up Member States to 11.

Wednesday, from 1:15 to 2:45 p.m. in Conference Room 6 at UN Headquarters, there will be a panel discussion on "Small Arms Trafficking: Human Consequences and Preventive Measures." The panel discussion is one of the events being held this week in conjunction with the session of the Preparatory Committee for the UN Conference on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, in All Its Aspects.

In response to a question on reports that the former Bosnian Serb President, Biljana Plavsic, had turned herself in to the International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the Spokesman said he had seen the media reports that indicated that she was in The Hague. Tribunal officials would not comment on the reports, but they may do so during their weekly press briefing Wednesday.

Responding to a question on the Secretary-Generals meeting with Donald Trump, the Spokesman said the meeting will focus on the Capital Master Plan for renovations of the headquarters building.

Answering a question on the planned visit of Alvaro de Soto, the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for Cyprus, to the island, the Spokesman said that he expected de Soto to travel to the region in the next few weeks.

In response to a question on the meeting Monday between the Secretary-General and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the Spokesman said that the two had met alone, without note-takers, for over an hour and that he would not add to the comments already made by Albright to journalists after her meeting.

  • The guest at today's briefing was the new UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Ruud Lubbers, who briefed the Security Council for the first time since he assumed his duties last week.

    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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