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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-03-13

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 MANOEL DE ALMEIDA E SILVA

DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, March 13, 2001

ANNAN HOLDS TALKS WITH NEPALESE KING, PRIME MINISTER

Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived in Dhaka, Bangladesh this afternoon, after concluding his visit to Nepal.

In Kathmandu today, the Secretary-General and Nane Annan called on the King and Queen of Nepal. King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev said he wanted to "see the UN stronger and more effective" and explained that as a small, landlocked country sandwiched between two giants India and China Nepal had a special appreciation for the United Nations. "It helps us maintain our identity and gives us a voice," he said.

The Secretary-General then held meetings with Defense Minister Mahesh Acharya and Foreign Minister Chakra Prasad Bastola. He also met with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and was the guest of honor of a luncheon hosted by the Prime Minister. After lunch the Secretary-General visited the UN House, where he was briefed by the representatives of UN agencies in Nepal.

During his meetings with the Nepalese authorities, the topics discussed included economic and social problems in Nepal, political and economic developments in the region, as well as the follow up to the Millennium Summit and Declaration. They also talked about UN peacekeeping and the Nepalese contribution to that effort.

The Secretary-General encouraged Nepal to develop its peacekeeping training center, for which he pledged UN support. He assured Nepal that now that the Government had found premises, the Asia Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament would soon move from New York to Kathmandu.

Today in Kathmandu, Nane Annan visited Maiti Nepal, a non-governmental organization supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) which works to protect women and children from exploitation, abuse and trafficking. She met with teenage Nepalese girls who had been sold into prostitution, sometimes by their husbands or families.

The Secretary-Generals official program in Bangladesh begins Wednesday

ANNAN URGES TOLERANCE FOLLOWING DESTRUCTION OF BUDDHAS

At the Katmandu airport, journalists once again asked the Secretary-general about the Taliban's destruction of the Buddha statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, and how such acts could be avoided in the future.

He said, "I think this is an issue that should be the responsibility of all of us." The answer has to do with education, he said, adding, "Education about tolerance, education about respect for diversity, education that allows people to understand that you do not have to hate what belongs to othersto respect your own religion."

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES UN MISSION IN ETHIOPIA, ERITREA

The Security Council this morning began its work with closed consultations on the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), on which it heard a briefing by the Secretary-General's Special Representative and head of that Mission, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila.

Legwaila briefed the Council on the Secretary-General's latest report on the Mission, which recommends that the Mission be extended from its current mandate, which expires on Thursday, by another six months, until September 15.

He noted that the Temporary Security Zone has not been set up yet, because Eritrean troops remained in the zone, and he pointed to some restrictions on the movements of UN peacekeepers that had been placed by both sides. He added that there had been no significant cease-fire violations by either side. He also briefed reporters following the Council's consultations.

COUNCIL VOICES CONCERN ABOUT CONGO CEASE-FIRE VIOLATIONS

On Monday afternoon, following Security Council consultations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Council President Valeri Kuchynski of Ukraine in a press statement said that the Council was concerned about continuing cease-fire violations in Bolomba. He added that the Council would examine whether all the parties to the Congolese conflict would comply with the March 15 deadline for disengagement.

Also Monday, the Council received a letter from the Palestinian Observer Mission, asking for an urgent meeting of the Council to discuss the situation in the Palestinian territories.

In response to a question about whether the Council would hold such a meeting, the Spokesman noted that Kuchynski had informed reporters on Monday afternoon that the Council had not come to a decision on that request so far.

REPORT: NO SIGNIFICANT DEPLETED URANIUM RISK IN KOSOVO

The final report of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on the environmental impact of depleted uranium ammunition used during the 1999 conflict in Kosovo, which was released this morning in Geneva, concludes that no widespread ground contamination exists in the investigated areas.

The UN Balkans Task Force, which last November visited 11 sites in Kosovo that had been identified as having been targeted by depleted uranium ordnance, added that the corresponding radiological and chemical risks from exposure to depleted uranium are insignificant.

UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said, "These scientific findings should alleviate any immediate anxiety that people living or working in Kosovo may have been experiencing." But he added, "Under certain circumstances, however, DU can still pose risks," and he noted that the report suggests that precautionary measures should be taken in areas struck by depleted uranium ammunition.

The head of UNEP's Depleted Uranium Assessment Team, Pekka Haavisto, said that considerable scientific uncertainties remain, particularly concerning the long-term safety of groundwater in areas where depleted uranium ordnance was found.

UNEP, the World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency are now studying the report to consider together whether it is necessary to prepare future missions to areas where depleted uranium has been used during military conflicts.

UNESCO WELCOMES UN TRIBUNAL ACTION ON DUBROVNIK

UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Koichiro Matsuura said he welcomes the fact that the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) included the destruction of historic monuments in its 16-count indictment of February 22, relating to the 1991 attacks on the ancient port city of Dubrovnik in Croatia.

Matsuura, in a press release, drew a parallel between the attacks on Dubrovnik and the action by the Taliban to destroy Afghanistan's pre-Islamic heritage and said, "This important precedent shows the international community can take action to protect cultural property and apply sanctions for its protection."

IRAQ EXPORTED 1.5 MILLION BARRELS OF OIL DAILY LAST WEEK

According to the weekly update from the Office of the Iraq Programme, Iraq exported, on average, 1.5 million barrels of oil a day during the week of March 3 9, totaling 10.2 million barrels under the United Nations "oil-for-food" program. There were six loadings at the two authorized terminals of Mina al-Bakr and Ceyhan. The week's exports raised an estimated 213 million euros in revenue at current prices.

In Phase IX of the "oil-for-food" program, Iraq has so far exported 100.8 million barrels of oil for an estimated revenue of over 2.18 billion euros.

REGULATION APPROVED FOR EAST TIMOR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY

The National Council of East Timor, chaired by Speaker Xanana Gusmao, today approved a regulation on the election of a constituent assembly, with 17 members voting in favor, none against and five abstaining. The regulation establishes that East Timor will elect an 88-member Constituent Assembly, which would prepare and adopt a constitution for a democratic and independent East Timor in a 90-day period.

All persons aged 17 or older who were born in East Timor, have at least one parent born in East Timor, or have a spouse meeting either of those conditions, would be eligible to vote on the Constituent Assembly.

The UN Mission in East Timor noted today that so far, a total of two people have died following violence involving youth groups in Viqueque. So far, more than 350 East Timorese have sought refuge in the UN peacekeeping headquarters in Viqueque, and the tensions remain high, although no incidents were reported today.

Asked about the violence in Viqueque, the Spokesman said that it had apparently started as a fight between two gangs, and that the UN Mission was investigating the causes of the violence. Earlier, he noted, there had also been brief bursts of violence in Baucau and Dili.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Kosovos Interim Administrative Council today called on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to open the border with Kosovo, saying it was gravely concerned at the social and economic consequences of the situation.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) reported today that a fresh outbreak of violence in the volatile Parrots Beak region of Guinea has forced it to suspend the delivery of food to refugees and displaced Guineans. Sierra Leone refugees continue to go back to Sierra Leones capital, Freetown, from Guinea s capital, Conakry, UNHCR reports. The returnees speak of harassment by various armed factions they encountered along the way, both on Guinean and Sierra Leonean territory.

UNHCR today welcomed assurances given to the Secretary-General by Gen. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan that his country will continue to provide assistance to needy Afghans. UNHCR said it hopes the agreement will pave the way for better humanitarian access to some 80,000 new arrivals from Afghanistan who are currently living in deplorable conditions at the windswept Jalozai site, where agencies have only been allowed to provide limited assistance. Conditions at the makeshift encampment are among the worst some relief professionals have ever seen.

The World Food Programme (WFP) said it has been forced to cuts food rations to refugees by 50 percent in Zambia because its food stocks in the country had been depleted and there were no funds to buy more food. In Malawi, WFP said it started distribution of food to 60,000 people isolated by rains and floods.

The Department of Public Information announced today that the web site for the Committee on Information, which it has developed, is now available in all six official languages. The address is www.un.org/ga/coi.

According to the latest update on UN peacekeeping operations, 90 countries currently contribute some 39,000 military and civilian police personnel to 15 UN peacekeeping operations.

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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