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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-01-16

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





Tuesday, January 16, 2001


UN agencies today increased efforts to reconstruct buildings and to provide food, water and other necessary supplies for thousands of people in El Salvador affected by last Saturday's earthquake.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has received a contribution of 1.5 billion lira (about $700,000) from the Government of Italy for its rehabilitation and reconstruction work in El Salvador. This contribution forms part of the $1.2 million being channeled through UNDP, including $100,000 from its Emergency Response Division to support coordination and logistics. Ten United Nations Volunteers are also assisting in the relief operations.

The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) announced today that it has committed $500,000 for immediate relief aid to El Salvador. The money will be used to provide water tanks, water purification tablets and portable latrines for those displaced by the earthquake, as well as medical supplies and drugs to fight the spread of disease.

UNICEF also intends to address the psycho-social impact of the earthquake on children by providing educational supplies and school kits so that schools could be reopened, in tents if necessary, in order to restore a sense of normalcy to the affected children.

The World Food Programme (WFP), meanwhile, is continuing to provide emergency food to the hardest hit communities of El Salvador. Some 54,500 people are currently being fed in the towns of La Libertad, La Paz, Usulutan, Don Rua, Tecoluca and Comasagua.


In response to questions about reports of fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General's Special Representative to that country, Kamel Morjane, had reported that there were some indications that fighting had taken place in Kinshasa. Something had happened in the area of the Presidential Palace, with movement around that area being controlled. However, Morjane had reported, the situation in the center of Kinshasa was now quiet.

Separate reports indicated that troops with heavy weapons were patrolling the area around the Presidential Palace. In addition, the DRC's borders and the airport were reported to be closed.

DRC President Laurent Kabila had been scheduled to attend the France-Africa Summit, which is to begin Wednesday in Yaounde, Cameroon. The Spokesman said the United Nations was checking to see whether he would be present there.

The Spokesman noted that the United Nations continues to deploy military observers in the DRC, even though the Mission has not received the necessary support to expand its presence on the ground and has faced restrictions on its movements. He added that, although it was "not particularly a satisfactory situation," the Security Council has wanted to maintain the Mission and receives regular reports on the situation in the DRC.


This morning, the Security Council began an open debate on the strengthening of cooperation with troop contributing countries, which is being chaired by the Foreign Minister of Singapore, S. Jayakumar.

Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette opened the meeting by underscoring the need for consultations between the Security Council and troop contributors, noting that "we all stand to gain from a clear understanding between those who prepare the mandates and those who execute them." She said that the Secretariat is committed to providing frequent and comprehensive briefings to Member States.

She also noted the recommendations of last year's Panel on Peace Operations, chaired by Lakhdar Brahimi, to strengthen cooperation with troop contributing countries, by, among other steps, the establishment of a list of military and civilian police specialists who are on call.

There are 36 speakers inscribed for today's debate, including 21 troop contributing countries, who will speak before the 15 members of the Security Council. The debate is expected to last into the afternoon.

On Wednesday, the Council is expected to hold consultations on Ethiopia and Eritrea. Also, a meeting of troop contributing countries involved in the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon has been scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. The Spokesman, in response to a question, noted after the briefing that there will be a public meeting of the Council Thursday on Kosovo.


Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his latest progress report to the Security Council on Ethiopia and Eritrea, described the signing of the December 12 Peace Agreement in Algiers as a major achievement, which underlines the commitment of both countries to the consolidation of the peace process.

He said that the delay in establishing the Temporary Security Zone, due to disagreements between the parties over redeployment plans, is a source of concern, and that his Special Representative, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, has been asked to work with the parties to resolve this matter.

The Secretary-General also outlined "a few matters" pertaining to the deployment of the UN Mission which also remain to be resolved, such as the signing of the status-of-forces agreement.

Subject to the availability of resources, he said the United Nations would be ready to assist in the work of the so-called Boundary Commission.

He pointed to the issue of mines and unexploded ordnance as the remaining pre-eminent threat to the UN troops and population around the Zone that is to be established.


Late last week, the Secretary-General, in a letter to the Security Council, presented his views concerning the Council's response last month to his report on the establishment of a Special Court for Sierra Leone.

In it, he noted the Security Council's preference that the Court's jurisdiction be extended to "persons who bear the greatest responsibility," limiting the focus of the Court's activities to those who played a leadership role in human rights violations in Sierra Leone. However, the Secretary-General added, "Any such determination will have to be reconciled with an eventual prosecution of juveniles and members of a peacekeeping operation, even if such prosecutions are unlikely."

He also noted that Council members have proposed that the Court should not be established until the UN Secretariat has obtained sufficient voluntary contributions to finance its first 12 months of operations, as well as pledges equal to anticipated expenses over the next 12 months.

The Secretary-General, in response, cautioned in his letter about the risks of establishing an operation of this kind with insufficient funds. He proposed that the Court should not be established until contributions for the first 12 months, and pledges to handle anticipated expenses for the next 24 months, have been received.


The Office of the Iraq Programme, in its weekly update, notes that during the week of January 6-12, Iraqi oil exports under the United Nations oil-for-food programme continued to register below average figures. Through three oil loadings at Mina al-Bakr terminal, Iraq exported 4.7 million barrels of oil, raising an estimated 98 million euros in revenue. There have been no oil loadings at Ceyhan terminal this month, while there was only a single loading in the month of December.

According to the United Nations oil overseers, there was an estimated loss of $1 billion in revenue, as a result of disrupted and reduced Iraqi oil exports under the program during the month of December, with an additional estimated revenue loss of $380 million in the first 10 days of January.

Iraq exported approximately 18 million barrels of crude oil in December, or some 50 million barrels less than expected, while during the first 10 days of January, the exports were 22 million barrels below those anticipated.

In Phase IX, of the "oil-for-food" program, Iraq so far has exported 22.4 million barrels of oil for an estimated 464 million euros. The US dollar was replaced by the euro for Iraqi oil purchases in early November 2000, at the request of the Government of Iraq and with the authorization of the Security Council Sanctions Committee for Iraq.

Asked about reports that Iraq might request a surcharge on oil exports, the Spokesman said it had made such a request and that the Sanctions Committee had rejected it.


The Secretary-General, in a statement, welcomed the creation of the new East African Community (EAC) comprising Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, which was launched Monday in Arusha, Tanzania at a signing ceremony including the Presidents of the three countries.

He noted that this latest effort to integrate the economies of African countries may well turn out to be a building block for the envisaged African Economic Community.

The United Nations supports the strong commitment of African countries to multilateralism and initiatives, such as the EAC, that strengthen Africa's capacity to meet the challenges of globalization. The demands of a rapidly changing international economic environment require new responses, and the Secretary-General wishes the EAC all success.


Staffan di Mistura, the Secretary-General's new Personal Representative for Southern Lebanon, held a meeting in Beirut with Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, in which the two discussed political, economic and humanitarian issues related to southern Lebanon. The Prime Minister asked the United Nations to take the lead role on the issue of demining in the south, and recalled that 130,000 mines remain planted in southern Lebanon.

Next week in Baucau, the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor will officially receive from East Timorese construction companies three rehabilitated buildings which had been destroyed in the violence following the popular consultation in 1999. The East Timorese companies last month finished rehabilitation work on the buildings, which were the Public Prosecutor's Office, the administration building of the prison and the court.

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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