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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-09-17

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

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HIGHLIGHTS

OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, September 17, 2001

(Updated weekdays by 3 p.m. U.S. Eastern Standard Time)

ANNAN VISITS FIREHOUSE, CALLS FOR TOLERANCE IN WAKE OF ATTACK

Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his wife Nane this morning visited the firehouse closest to the United Nations to offer condolences and support in the wake of the September 11 attack on the United States. The Captain of that station, Engine 21, is among the missing following the collapse of the World Trade Center last week.

One fire fighter said, "Just a hug makes a difference." Nane Annan responded by hugging him.

She and the Secretary-General then stood in respectful silence before a shrine of flowers and candles at the front of the building.

On Friday, the Secretary-General attended Friday Prayers at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York. He told reporters afterwards, "We should look for culprits, and punish them, but we should not make anyone guilty by association -- by religion or by the region that he or she comes from."

He condemned the Islamophobia, which he said is beginning to pick up. He asked, in defense of Islam, "How would one kill in the name of a religion that professes peace, that professes God as God the Merciful?"

Over the weekend, he also attended a service at the Park East Synagogue on Saturday and then went to a memorial service at St. Patrick's Cathedral on Sunday.

Asked about the Secretary-General's actions since the attack, the Spokesman noted his recent statements, and pointed in particular to his call for calm and for tolerance, rather than scapegoating. Eckhard noted that the brother-in-law of UN correspondent Mian Zahid Ghani, who writes for Pakistan's News Network International, had been killed, apparently on the basis of his appearance. He also said that others, including Sikhs, had been attacked in parts of the United States, possibly because Sikh men wear turbans. Because a person wears a turban, this isnt a reason to attack them, the Spokesman said.

UN STAFF ESTABLISHES FUND FOR NEW YORK TERROR VICTIMS

On Friday, the staff of the United Nations established a fund for the victims of the terrorist attack in New York.

The Staff Committee announced that a bank account has now been established for that fund. It is account number 550380 at the UN Federal Credit Union. Checks should be made payable to UN Staff Relief Committee/NYC.

The cash donations made on Friday have already brought $50,388 to the fund.

ANNAN SADDENED BY DEATH OF AFGHAN LEADER MASSOUD

The Secretary-General, in a statement, said he was saddened by the assassination last week of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Vice President and Defense Minister of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, who "made a crucial contribution to the preservation of the sovereignty of his country."

That act of terrorism, the statement added, eliminated a key Afghan leader who had repeatedly expressed his readiness to take part in negotiations toward a political solution in Afghanistan. The killing and the apparent involvement of non-Afghan elements in it further complicate the efforts of the international community to end the conflict.

UN REFUGEE AGENCY REPORTS DEPARTURES FROM AFGHAN CITIES

Reports from the Afghan cities of Kandahar, Kabul and Jalalabad indicate that many people are leaving and heading toward villages, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees ( UNHCR). UNHCR also reports that many others are headed toward the Pakistani border and some to the Iranian border.

The refugee agency also reports that all borders neighboring Afghanistan are closed, although some Afghans have managed to cross the border into Pakistan.

The UN humanitarian coordinators office has said that there are currently believed to be almost six million vulnerable people inside Afghanistan, a figure amounting to approximately 25 percent of the total population.

Before any of last weeks events took place, there were already near one million internally displaced persons inside Afghanistan and more than 3.6 million refugees outside the country, including 2 million in Pakistan and 1.5 million in Iran.

SECURITY COUNCIL TO HOLD PRIVATE MEETING ON KOSOVO

This afternoon at 3 p.m., the Security Council will hold a private meeting on Kosovo.

Attending the meeting will be the Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia, Nebojsa Covic, and the Secretary-Generals Special Representative in Kosovo, Hans Haekkerup.

TALKS ON FURTHERING PEACE PROCESS IN SIERRA LEONE TO RESUME TUESDAY

The UN Mission in Sierra Leone ( UNAMSIL) says that the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) has agreed to resume its participation in the tripartite meeting tomorrow with the Sierra Leone government and the UN Mission.

The meeting, which is aimed at furthering the peace process in Sierra Leone, is scheduled to take place in Makeni on Tuesday.

The RUF had boycotted the previously scheduled tripartite meeting earlier this month following the governments announcement to hold elections in May 2002.

Meanwhile, the Mission also reports that as part of its strategy to establish military presence throughout the country, UN peacekeepers began their deployment to the diamond-rich town of Tongo in the eastern district of Kenema.

CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY HOLDS FIRST MEETING IN EAST TIMOR

The East Timor Constituent Assembly met for the first time today. The 88-member body elected Francisco Guterres, President of the Fretilin party, as its Speaker.

The members of the Constituent Assembly were sworn in on Saturday. They now have 90 days to write and adopt a Constitution that will determine the political system East Timor will adopt.

Starting today, Assembly members are participating in a three-day orientation seminar on Constitutional issues organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the world organization of parliaments of sovereign nations.

On a separate development, eight East Timorese children separated from their parents during the violence that followed the 1999 Popular Consultation today returned to their home towns in East Timor from orphanages in Indonesia. The children had been placed in orphanages by the pro-integrationist Hati Foundation after being removed from their parents in West Timor refugee camps.

ANNAN SAYS PROGRESS IN NON-PROLIFERATION IS ESSENTIAL

The 45th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) began today in Vienna and is to last throughout this week.

In a message to the Conference, the Secretary-General says that it is more important than ever to make progress in nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament in the wake of last week's appalling terrorist attack on the United States.

Looking toward the future, he says that broad international cooperation is essential to upgrade the physical protection of nuclear material, to improve capabilities for intercepting and responding to illicit trafficking in nuclear materials and to enhance the protection of facilities against terrorism and sabotage.

ILO TEAM BEGINS VISIT TO MYANMAR

A high-level team of the International Labour Organization (ILO), headed by former Australian Governor-General Ninian Stephen, departed today for Myanmar, where it will spend three weeks assessing how the Government of that country has acted against forced labor.

The team will spend the first few days in the capital, Yangon, before traveling to various parts of Myanmar to assess the situation. This is the first time an ILO team has traveled to a country to make its own direct assessment of the forced labor situation.-

Under the terms of an understanding reached with the Myanmar authorities, the team will have full discretion to make such contacts and visits that it considers appropriate to its work. The team will then issue a report that will be considered by the ILO Governing Body at its meeting in Geneva this November.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Asked about whether the General Assembly's general debate may be rescheduled in light of recent events, the Spokesman said that the General Assembly's regional groups were meeting today to discuss the matter. So far, he said, no formal request had been received from the U.S. Government asking for a postponement, and no decision has been made by the Assembly.

In response to a question, the Spokesman said he was not aware of any UN staff among the missing or the dead from the September 11 attack.

Asked whether French President Jacques Chirac would talk to the press while in New York, the Spokesman said that he was scheduled to give a press conference at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Earlier that day, Chirac is to have a luncheon meeting with the Secretary-General.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today announced that they are postponing their annual meetings, which had been scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. on September 29-30. The two agencies took that decision following security concerns in the wake of the terrorist attack last week on the United States, out of a desire not to draw police in Washington away from other business. No date for the rescheduled meetings was announced today.

Today, Sri Lanka became the 116th Member State to pay its 2001 regular budget contribution in full with a payment of more than $165,000.

In a statement, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Jacques Diouf said that malnutrition and starvation are a violation of human rights. He called on the international community to assist those States that "that do not have the means to ensure minimum access to food for all their people." Dioufs statement was delivered by Assistant Director-General Hartwig de Haen at a seminar on the right to food in Rome.

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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