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United Nations Daily Highlights, 02-07-29

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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

Monday, July 29, 2002

ANNAN PRESENTS NEXT HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, shortly after the noon briefing, introduced to reporters the new High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who will replace current High Commissioner Mary Robinson in September.

Paying tribute to Robinson, the Secretary-General said, Hers is going to be a tough act to follow, but Im sure Sergio is not going to let us down.

ANNAN VOICES CONCERN FOLLOWING MIDDLE EAST VIOLENCE

[Asked about the plight of the Palestinians, the Secretary-General said, I would not say the Palestinians are a forgotten people, adding that the United Nations is working hard to end the tragedy in that region. He noted that there is now a vision of two states living side by side in security, but added that it is not enough to have a vision without creating the operational pathway to achieve it. ]

The Secretary-General remains gravely concerned at the continuing violence in the Middle East, including most recently Sunday, the shooting of a Palestinian woman in Hebron by Israeli settlers, and last Friday's attack near the town of Hebron in the West Bank, in which four Israelis were killed.

He reiterates his condemnation of all attacks against civilians.

The Secretary-General urges all concerned to end the cycle of violence and retaliation, and calls on the parties to return to the path of negotiations for a permanent settlement.

UN TEAM FINALIZING REPORT ON JULY 1 BOMBING IN AFGHANISTAN

Following the July 1 bombing incident in Uruzgan in Afghanistan, the UN Mission in Afghanistan dispatched a fact-finding team from Kandahar to assess humanitarian needs. It also included the local authorities. Following the visit, a quick preliminary report was put together concerning both the situation on the ground and an estimate of the requirements for humanitarian assistance to the affected villages.

The short preliminary report contained some figures regarding the level of casualties that were not fully documented and judgments that were not sufficiently substantiated. A comprehensive report is being finalized that will provide a more detailed and accurate picture of the circumstances and consequences of the bombing.

The Mission today issued a statement emphasizing that everything should be done to see that innocent civilians are protected and such incidents not recur.

Once the final report is ready, the United Nations will issue a full statement.

In response to questions, the Spokesman noted that an initial report was leaked to the press, but the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, believed that some things presented as fact were not adequately documented. The Mission, he noted, was working on a revised document, and a statement is expected from the Mission on Tuesday.

The Spokesman declined to comment on the substance of the revised report until it is issued. He underscored that Brahimi did not want to change the objective facts of the fact-finding teams work but to substantiate them.

The report, he said, was viewed by Brahimi and members of his senior staff. The team made one visit to the villages affected by the attacks, to find out how many people were hurt as well as to determine the humanitarian needs.

Asked whether information in the report was shared with the United States, the Spokesman said that the UN Mission in Kabul may have communicated some information to U.S. authorities in Kabul.

UN ENVOY WELCOMES AFGHAN ACCESSION TO MINE BAN TREATY

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, warmly welcomed todays decision by the Afghan Transitional Authority to accede to the Mine Ban Convention. This announcement illustrates the determination of President Hamid Karzai, his Government and the people of Afghanistan to turn away from decades of conflict, and to embrace a peaceful future.

Afghanistan is the worlds most severely mine affected country. With this decision, the work of the clearing of mines and unexploded ordnance, and destroying mine stockpiles, assumes renewed significance.

The United Nations is committed to supporting Karzai and his Government in their efforts to rid the country of the menace of mines and urges the international community to provide continued financial support for this vital work.

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS UN MISSION IN GEORGIA, DISCUSSES MIDDLE EAST

The Security Council this morning held a closed meeting on Georgia, during which Georgian Minister for Special Affairs Malkhaz Kakabadze made a statement.

Council members then walked across the hall to the consultation room to discuss the Middle East. The Council had met in consultations Friday afternoon when Syria introduced a draft resolution, and members agreed to resume discussions on the draft this morning. They are expected to return to the matter Tuesday afternoon.

After the Middle East discussions, Joachim Hütter, Director of the Europe and Latin America Division of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, briefed the Council on developments since the issuance of the most recent report of the Secretary-General concerning the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia.

The Council then held a formal meeting in which it extended the mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia by six months, until the end of January 2003.

In its consultations, the Security Council also discussed the current mandates of the UN Missions in Lebanon and Western Sahara, which will both expire at the end of Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Kosovo, Michael Steiner, is scheduled to brief the Security Council on recent developments in an open meeting on Kosovo.

UN CONGO MISSION BEGINS POLICE TRAINING IN KISANGANI

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) reports that it began training civilian police instructors in Kisangani today.

This is the first of two five-week courses. A second batch of 54 instructors will go through the training in early September.

All these future Police instructors were selected by UN staff from a list provided by the Congolese Rally for Democracy Goma (RCD-Goma), the de-facto authority in Kisangani.

The missions civilian Police Commissioner, Gen. Gerardo Chaumont, as well as RCD-Goma officials, attended the opening ceremony.

UN SUSPENDS AID TO CHECHNYA FOLLOWING KIDNAPPING

The Office of the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Moscow announced today that humanitarian activities in Chechnya have been suspended indefinitely following the kidnapping of a senior Russian aid worker. Humanitarian activities in Ingushetia have been suspended for two days, starting today.

The suspension covers all humanitarian activities carried out by the United Nations and by non-governmental organizations on behalf of the United Nations.

The Humanitarian Coordinator for the Russian Federation, Rosemary McCreery, is expected to arrive in Grozny Tuesday to hold talks with Chechen officials.

Asked about the consequences of the suspension, the Spokesman said the United Nations hoped that it would not last any longer than it had to, but he added that the suspension was taken because of the seriousness of the kidnapping.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

In a press release, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia noted the withdrawal last Friday of the indictment against Milan Zec, a former Yugoslav Army commander charged with war crimes committed in Dubrovnik in 1991. The Tribunal decided that the evidence at this stage was insufficient to maintain the charges against Zec, but this does not exclude the possibility that further prosecution may be brought against him based on additional evidence that may be obtained.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) said in a new report that, despite improved harvests, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea urgently needs new pledges of external assistance. The aid will help to fill the food gap threatening millions of people in the most vulnerable groups. FAO and WFP are forecasting a deficit of 382,000 metric tons from July to October.

The Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) have completed its preliminary assessment of proposals from 54 States Parties for amendments to the Conventions lists of plants and animals subject to trade controls. All 158 Parties now have until their next meeting in Santiago, Chile in November, to provide comments. Among the controversial issues will be Japans proposal to reopen trade in two whale species and issues related to trade in African elephant ivory.

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) says that 11 African countries are teaming up to tackle the erosion of their beaches. The countries will use the World Summit for Sustainable Development to attract backers for their African Process project to deal with the problem.

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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