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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-09-25

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

Tuesday, September 25, 2001

ANNAN CALLS PLIGHT OF AFGHAN CIVILIAN POPULATION DESPERATE

In a statement released today, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he "strongly supported" the statement issued on Monday by the leaders of all the branches of the United Nations involved in humanitarian action.

"The plight of the civilian Afghan population is indeed desperate," he said. "More than two decades of conflict, seven years of oppressive rule by the Taliban regime, and three years of severe drought have left more than five million people dependent on foreign aid for their very survival.

"Now, tragically, that aid has been interrupted," he continued. "Those who deliberately withhold food supplies from starving people, and attack or impede humanitarian relief workers - whether local or international - should know that the international community will hold them responsible."

He added, "Many Afghans are trying to flee the country, but find it difficult to cross the borders. In accordance with international law, the borders must be open to civilians seeking refuge. At the same time, the international community must send swift and generous help, so that refugees do not become an impossible burden on the neighboring States."

The Secretary-General concluded, "Innocent civilians should not be punished for the actions of their government. The world is united against terrorism. Let it be equally united in protecting and assisting the innocent victims of emergencies and disasters."

UN HUMANITARIAN AGENCIES MOBILIZE TO ASSIST AFGHANS

The World Food Programme ( WFP) announced today that it would resume cross-border operations to move food on a trial basis to the northern and western parts of the Afghanistan.

The agency said many of the people there have enough food for one week only. That area is the epicenter of the countrys devastating food crisis.

The UN refugee agency ( UNHCR) also announced today that UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and the Pakistan Government plan to travel Wednesday to evaluate 75 potential camp sites in Pakistans North West Frontier Province.

UNHCR also noted today that at least two Afghan women gave birth at the border over the past week. They were allowed to enter Pakistan, given medical treatment and then sent back.

In Iran, UNHCR and Iranian Government refugee officials continue to identify potential camp sites in the border area.

In Islamabad, Pakistan, a meeting between UN Humanitarian Coordinator Michael Sackett and the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan today proved inconclusive on the cutoff in communication between UN national staff in Afghanistan and the outside world, according to todays briefing notes.

On Monday afternoon, the heads of six UN agencies and offices Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the UN Childrens Fund; Catherine Bertini, Executive Director of the World Food Programme; Ruud Lubbers, UN High Commissioner for Refugees; March Malloch Brown, Executive Director of the UN Development Programme; Kenzo Oshima, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator; and Mary Robinson, High Commissioner for Human Rights -- issued a joint statement warning of the humanitarian crisis looming in Afghanistan.

HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF NOTES DUTY TO RESPOND TO CRIMES

Mary Robinson , UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, addressed a one-day informal meeting of the Commission for Human Rights, and told journalists afterward that the events of September 11 in the United States could be characterized as crimes against humanity.

"If these are crimes against humanity," Robinson said, "every country would owe a duty to work with the United Nations, work with the United States, to bring the perpetrators to justice."

The High Commissioner added that all the members of the Commission of Human Rights had begun their work by standing in a minute of silence to honor the victims and families of the terrorist attacks.

WHO URGES PREPARATION AGAINST CHEMICAL, BIOLOGICAL ATTACKS

Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director General of the World Health Organization ( WHO), said Monday that countries must prepare for the possibility that chemical or biological agents might be used as weapons.

At a meeting of the health ministers of the Western Hemisphere in Washington, D.C., Brundtland said that proper surveillance and quick and coordinated response are vital to contain the use of agents such as anthrax or smallpox before they infect large numbers of people. She added that WHO had stepped up its capacity to help countries to respond to any such attack.

ANNAN PLEASED AT AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENT OF US ARREARS

In a statement released by the Spokesman, the Secretary-General said he was pleased by the decision of the United States Congress to authorize payment of $582 million dollars, in partial settlement of the dues owed to the United Nations.

Annan also thanked US businessman Ted Turner for his remarkable role in facilitating this payment, and saluted him for his visionary leadership as a true global citizen.

The Secretary-General hoped that all outstanding financial issues between the United States and the United Nations can be resolved as soon as possible.

SECURITY COUNCIL CONSIDERS RESOLUTION ON FYR-MACEDONIA

This morning the Security Council met in closed consultations to discuss the report of the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations concerning exit strategies for peace operations. The work of this group has been led by Ambassador Curtis Ward of Jamaica

A draft resolution was introduced on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and it is expected to come to a vote on Wednesday.

UNHCR, meanwhile, reported that the rate of refugee returns from Kosovo has fallen to just under 200 per day and says that uncertainty continues over the security arrangements after NATO ends its arms collection mission on 26 September. UNHCR has warned that a security vacuum could trigger a new round of violence and displacement.

COUNCIL REMAINS DEADLOCKED ON IRAQI OIL PRICING FREQUENCY

On Iraq, the stalemate continues in the Security Council over the issue of the frequency of pricing reviews for Iraqi crude oil deliveries. That stalemate has prevented the approval of prices for Iraqi crude oil to the US market in September.

Nevertheless, according to the Office of the Iraq Programme (OIP), the flow of Iraqi oil exports, in the week ending on September 21, was strong. At an average rate of over 2.3 million barrels per day, a total of 16.4 million barrels of oil were lifted from the two authorized loading terminals of Mina al-Bakr and Ceyhan.

The Chairman of the Security Council's 661 Committee Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Ole Peter Kolbe of Norway, is in close contact with the other members of the committee to gather their views on how they perceive the situation following Monday's Council consultations and get their advice on how to address the current situation.

At this time, the Chairman has decided that there is no basis for a new formal meeting of the Committee.

FORMER BOSNIAN ARMY CHIEF SURRENDERS TO HAGUE TRIBUNAL

Sefer Halilovic, former Chief of the Supreme Command Staff of the Bosnian Army, today voluntarily surrendered himself to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and has been transferred to the Tribunal's Detention Unit.

Halilovic was initially indicted by the Tribunal this July, on charges of war crimes relating to the killings of Bosnian Croats in the villages of Grabovica and Uzdol in September 1993.

EU TO PRESS ISRAEL TO LIFT RESTRICTIONS ON UNRWA

Today in Amman, Jordan, at a meeting of major donors and host countries of the UN Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the representative of the European Union said it will continue to urge the Israeli authorities to ease the restrictions on the movement of the Agency's staff and humanitarian supplies.

Earlier, UNRWA officials had briefed participants at this two-day meeting on the restrictions imposed on staff and humanitarian aid in Gaza and the West Bank since the start of the current Intifada.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

As part of the review of safety procedures at the UN, the Security and Safety Service will conduct an evacuation drill of the Headquarters building this Friday. All individuals, from delegates in the General Assembly to Secretariat staff as well as media, from the roof to the basement, will have to leave the building.

The UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) reports that the Civil Defence Force (CDF) and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) began handing over their weapons in Bo and Bombali districts Monday, when more than 70 combatants disarmed in the two districts

The East Timor Gender and Constitutional Working Group today handed a report on womens rights to the Secretary-Generals Special Representative in East Timor, Sergio Vieira de Mello. The report, which will be presented to the Constituent Assembly for its consideration when drafting the Constitution, reflects the aspirations and desires of women from all 13 districts in East Timor.

Today, Myanmar became the 119th Member State to pay its 2001 regular budget contribution in full, with a payment of more than $100,000.

The guest at the noon briefing was Kenzo Oshima, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, who briefed journalists on the United Nations relief efforts for Afghan both inside and outside Afghanistan.

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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