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United Nations Daily Highlights, 02-07-23

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

OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

  • We apologize for the late posting of the Highlights. The UN website is experiencing technical problems.

    SECRETARY-GENERAL DEPLORES ISRAELI ATTACK IN GAZA STRIP

    Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement issued on Monday night, deplored the Israeli air attack that took place in the Gaza Strip, reportedly leaving 10 persons dead and more than 100 injured, including women and children.

    Israel has the legal and moral responsibility to take all measures to avoid the loss of innocent life; it clearly failed to do so in using a missile against an apartment building.

    The Secretary-General calls on the Government of Israel to halt such actions and to conduct itself in a manner that is fully consistent with international humanitarian law.

    The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the possible consequences of this attack, and urges the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to do all in their power to restore safety and security for the civilian population on both sides.

    The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson today added her voice to that of Secretary-Generals in deploring Israel's latest air attack in the Gaza Strip.

    In her statement, she said that international human rights and humanitarian law absolutely prohibits the reckless killing of civilians, regardless of the military significance of the target being attacked."

    Robinson went on to point out that Israel, as a democratic society, "must not abandon its core standards and values, even in the face of the serious security threat to its own civilian population."

    "The current cycle of savagery must end," she said. "In the eyes of the world, this requires responsible action from both sides of this tragic conflict."

    Asked whether the Secretary-General had contacted the other members of the Quartet dealing with the Middle East following the latest incident, the Spokesman said that he had not done so by mid-morning today.

    Asked when the Secretary-Generals report on Jenin would be available, the Spokesman said that it was expected within a few weeks, by or before the middle of August.

    SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS WITH YUGOSLAVIA TRIBUNAL OFFICIALS

    The Security Council began its work today in a closed meeting on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

    The Tribunal's President, Judge Claude Jorda, prosecutor Carla Del Ponte and registrar Hans Holthuis briefed Council members today as part of their continuing dialogue with Council members on their plans to complete the Tribunal's work.

    Depending on the continuing cooperation of the international community, particularly in ensuring the arrest and transfer of indicted individuals and the financing of the Tribunal, officials for that body believe that its investigations can be completed by around 2004, and the first phase of prosecutions could be completed by about 2008 or 2009.

    Following the closed meeting, the Council held formal meetings to adopt two Presidential Statements. It welcomed the recent report on the ICTY judicial status, recognizing that the Tribunal should concentrate on the civilian, military and paramilitary leaders suspected of being responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law, rather than on minor actors.

    The Council also reiterated its condemnation of the killings that took place in Kisangani, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on and after May 14, and stressed that the Congolose Rally for Democracy-Goma (RCD-Goma) would be held accountable for any extrajudicial executions.

    The Security Council postponed consultations scheduled for today on Western Sahara. It will take up Western Sahara on Wednesday, when it will also discuss Swiss membership to the United Nations.

    After that, the Council held its monthly luncheon with the Secretary-General.

    UN OFFICE REGISTERS HIGH LEVEL OF IRAQI OIL EXPORTS LAST WEEK

    According to the latest figures, Iraqi oil exports under the oil-for-food program registered their highest single weekly volume since the start of Phase XII on May 30.

    The 9.8 million barrels of oil exported last week netted an estimated $240 million in revenue, bringing the overall estimated revenue for this phase 12 to over $1.23 billion.

    UNFPA CHIEF REGRETS US DECISION ON FUNDING

    Thoraya Obeid, the Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), on Monday responded to the decision by the United States not to fund her agency this year with deep regret, and said she hopes that US funding will resume and increase next year.

    The loss of $34 million, which was to have been provided for this year by the US Government, would be enough, she said, to prevent two million unwanted pregnancies and more than 77,000 infant and child deaths.

    Obeid told reporters that UNFPA does not support or promote abortion anywhere in the world, and she said, in reference to US objections over the Funds policies in China, Abortion rates are actually declining in the 32 counties in China where we operate.

    She added, UNFPA is strongly opposed to population control, and does not support Chinas one-child policy or take part in managing the Chinese Governments program.

    RELIEF COORDINATOR CONCERNED ABOUT CLOSURE OF CHECHEN CAMPS

    Kenzo Oshima, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, has added his voice to those who have expressed concern over the circumstances surrounding the recent closures of two camps hosting more than 2,000 internally displaced persons in Znamenskoye, in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation, and the subsequent transfer of those persons to temporary accommodation centers in Grozny.

    UN reports from the region indicate that this relocation cannot be regarded as entirely voluntary. Furthermore, these reports indicate that some of the internally displaced were very concerned about the security situation in Grozny and that living conditions in the temporary accommodation centers are not satisfactory.

    Oshima called upon the Russian authorities to ensure that all actions are taken to preserve the right of the internally displaced to a voluntary return, in safety and dignity, and to comply with the assurances given to the United Nations in this matter.

    EAST TIMOR FORCE TAKES OVER FROM UN PEACEKEEPERS

    In East Timor today, the peacekeeping force of the United Nations Mission handed over responsibility for the eastern district of Lautem to the East Timor Defence Force. This was the first such handover since the United Nations came to East Timor in 1999.

    More than 500 people witnessed the ceremony, during which the United Nations flag was lowered and the East Timor national flag was raised.

    Kamalesh Sharma, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for East Timor, said the country would now be able to devote itself to meeting its developmental and social goals, confident in the security provided by its own forces.

    President Xanana Gusmão urged the battalion draw from experience gained in the war of resistance that led to independence and to transfer this experience into absolute commitment to build our nation and to nurture peace and development for all.

    The Thai peacekeepers who were stationed in Lautem will be re-deployed to the Oecussi enclave.

    OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

    Asked about the recent talks between officials of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, held in South Africa, the Spokesman said the United Nations was pleased that some progress was reported. The United Nations does not have any details of the talks, but there appears to have been movement forward, he said.

    Asked about US arrears to the United Nations, the Spokesman said that the United States owes the world body just over a billion dollars. Eckhard said he was unaware of any UN cash flow problems.

    The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Kosovo, Michael Steiner, today announced that ten investigators from Italys Guardia di Finanza, whom he called experts in mafia-busting, will be working in the UN Mission in Kosovo to deal with the fight against financial crime and corruption there. Steiner said the addition of the 10 investigators, who will be funded by the UN Missions budget, will reinforce the zero tolerance policy the Mission has in place for crime, and he added, No one Kosovans or internationals will be beyond the reach of our crime-fighting effort.

    The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports today that it has resumed repatriation by sea of thousands of Sierra Leonean refugees keen to leave Liberia, where renewed fighting has uprooted tens of thousands of people over the past few weeks. UNHCR says a total of 4,500 Sierra Leoneans have signed up to go back. According to the refugee agency, repatriation by sea is currently the only reasonably safe way to bring the Sierra Leoneans home, as recent fighting has made overland movements unfeasible.

    The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu, continued his mission to Afghanistan today with a visit to Central Afghanistan. At the Shomali Plains, he witnessed first-hand the destruction caused by the conflict and the rehabilitation work taking place there. Earlier in the day he visited schools for girls and boys and an orphanage in Kabul.

  • The guest at todays briefing was James Morris, Executive Director of the World Food Programme and Special Humanitarian Representative for Southern Africa.

    Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General United Nations, S-378 New York, NY 10017 Tel. 212-963-7162 - press/media only Fax. 212-963-7055

    All other inquiries to be addressed to (212) 963-4475 or by e-mail to: inquiries@un.org


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