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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-01-29

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

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

ANNAN WELCOMES BUSHS PLEDGE FOR FUNDS TO FIGHT AIDS

In a statement issued today, Secretary-General Kofi Annan congratulated U.S. President George W. Bush on his pledge to provide stronger U.S. leadership in combating the devastating impact of the global AIDS epidemic.

He said, An additional $10 billion making a total of $15 billion over the next 5 years, with a new emphasis on access to life-saving treatment and care for millions of people will make a vital impact, not only in saving lives but also in staving off the very real threat to stability that AIDS represents in the worst affected regions.

The Secretary-General added, I am particularly pleased that $1 billion is initially to go to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which is a key instrument for the international community in giving strategic direction to the global struggle against HIV/AIDS.

He went on, We know, from experiences on every continent, that success is possible: in preventing infection and in treating and caring for those infected. But too often, the lack of resources has prevented projects from growing into the full-scale national strategies required for success.

He said that President Bush has confirmed his belief that AIDS can be defeated. I hope the U.S. Congress will accept the President's challenge and ensure that the needed funding is made available as quickly as possible, in keeping with the urgency of this crisis, the Secretary-General concluded. And I hope that this example will encourage other governments to follow suit.

SECURITY COUNCIL RESUMES CONSULTATIONS ON IRAQ

The Security Council resumed consultations on Iraq this morning, with the Secretary-General, as well as UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) Executive Chairman Hans Blix and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, attending.

The consultations are scheduled to continue at 3:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, an UNMOVIC biological team inspected the University of Technology in central Baghdad, while two other biological teams performed inspections outside of that city. Inspections were also carried out by UNMOVIC missile and chemical teams, although one chemical team, which flew by helicopter to another site, could not continue because of weather conditions.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Security Council approved two resolutions. One extended the Liberia sanctions panel of experts for a further three months and the other strongly supported the "Kimberley process" for rough diamond certification as a valuable contribution against trafficking in conflict diamonds.

Asked about the level of media coverage at the United Nations during the Security Councils Monday meeting on Iraq, the Spokesman said an estimated 650 journalists had taken part.

ANNAN TO APPOINT SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR COTE D'IVOIRE

On Tuesday afternoon, the Secretary-General delivered a statement on Cote dIvoire in consultations in the Security Council, after which he spoke to reporters.

He said the agreement reached in Paris offers the Ivoirian parties a chance to restore peace and stability in that country, and appealed to all the people of Ivory Coast to stop the violence, to return to their normal life. The Secretary-General also said he would be appointing a Special Representative to act on his behalf on the ground, and will be submitting further proposals to them as to what the United Nations can do.

Security Council President Jean-Marc de La Sablière, in a press statement, urged the parties to implement the accord constructively without delay and to avoid further violence.

Carolyn McAskie, the Secretary-Generals Humanitarian Envoy for the crisis in Cote dIvoire, left Abidjan for Ghana today. In addition to Ghana, McAskie will be visiting Burkina Faso, Guinea, Liberia, and Mali to assess the humanitarian impact of the Cote dIvoire crisis on those countries.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), meanwhile, announced that it partially resumed its operations in Côte dIvoire, sending 100 Liberian refugees home from the southwest.

UN MISSION REPORTS KILLINGS BY DEATH SQUADS IN COTE DIVOIRE

A report, transmitted by the Secretary-General to the Security Council, on the mission that traveled late last month to Cote dIvoire headed by Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan, notes that, according to estimates that it received during its visit, between 1,000 and 2,000 people have been killed in the conflict so far.

Many of the deaths have been the result of summary executions, the report says. It says that many politicians and businessmen have been murdered in Abidjan, in killings that, according to testimony, are organized by death squads and private militias.

The mission also reports allegations about the existence of mass graves, cases of detentions and disappearances on all sides, and reports of torture and sexual violence, including gang rape, which both the Government and the rebels have accused the other side of perpetrating.

The report says that the Ivoirian crisis is characterized by the scale of acts of hatred and xenophobia, and it calls on the Government and rebel leaders to prevent excesses and bring to justice those responsible for them, as well as to protect people at risk.

UN INVESTIGATES WHITE POWDER DELIVERED TO CYPRUS OFFICE

Just after noon today in Nicosia, the office of the Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, received a piece of mail from overseas containing a suspicious white powder.

Immediately, security officers from the UN mission in Cyprus were alerted and standard precautionary measures were put into effect.

The area adjacent to the offices in question was cordoned off and an investigation was begun by the UN military police unit. At the same time, Cyprus Government officials were alerted by the UN.

Tests carried out on samples to determine the exact nature of the powder and whether the substance is dangerous have proved negative. However, further tests are being conducted, the outcome of which will be known Thursday.

As a precautionary measure, the meeting between the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, and Greek Cypriot leader, Glafcos Clerides, hosted by de Soto, was moved from the UN Protected Area at the old Nicosia international airport to Ledra Palace, another UN building in the buffer zone between north and south Nicosia.

Meanwhile, some 50 people, UN staff and members of the technical committees, who had been meeting at the Nicosia Conference Centre at the time of the incident, underwent precautionary decontamination procedures.

UNEP: ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE HINDERS AFGHAN RECONSTRUCTION

In a report released today, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) warns that two decades of warfare in Afghanistan have degraded the environment to the extent it now presents a major stumbling block for the country's reconstruction efforts.

The Post-Conflict Environment Assessment report, produced in close cooperation with the Afghanistan Transitional Authority, shows how conflict has destroyed infrastructure, hindered agricultural activity and driven people into cities already lacking the most basic public amenities.

The report says that over 80 percent of Afghan people live in rural areas, yet they have seen many of their basic resources - water for irrigation, trees for food and fuel - lost in just one generation.

In urban areas, safe water may be reaching as few as12 percent of the people, the report says. Tests of drinking water in urban areas revealed high concentrations of bacterial contaminants, which create a threat to public health.

The rural assessment also found that a widespread loss of forests had occurred across much of the country during the past 30 years. Satellite imagery reveals that forests in three of the provinces surveyed have been reduced by over half since 1978.

CHINESE ENGINEERS TO BE DEPLOYED TO DR-CONGO MISSION

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) announced this morning that a contingent of 176 Chinese army engineers would be deployed to Kindu and Bukavu in the eastern part of the country.

This will constitute the most important Chinese contribution to any of the current peacekeeping missions. As of December 2002, China had 123 people serving in seven missions, including 69 civilian police in East Timor.

This is the first major deployment of Phase III, which increases the presence of the UN mission in the eastern part of the country.

UN ENVOYS CONCLUDE ONE-WEEK VISIT TO SOUTHERN AFRICA

James Morris, the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa, and Stephen Lewis, the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, today concluded a one-week visit to southern Africa. In Johannesburg, they warned that, although the international community has succeeded in averting a humanitarian catastrophe in southern Africa, the AIDS pandemic threatens the very existence of countries.

Without a radical and urgent approach, which addresses the terrifying reality of the pandemic and how it is indelibly woven with chronic food shortages, said Morris, even worse crises will stalk vulnerable people for generation to come. I am overwhelmed by the very real prospect of nations of orphans.

Lewis added that the pandemic is preying on women in particular and threatening them in a way that the world has never yet confronted.

The Envoys will issue a report on the mission that took them to Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia, and are expected to call for a bold new approach from the international community.

IAEA CONFIDENT THAT NO NUCLEAR MATERIAL DIVERTED FROM JAPAN

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said, following the announcement in Japan on Tuesday that it is correcting the amount of plutonium declared in its past accountancy reports to the IAEA, that it has recognized for some time that the amount of nuclear material transferred to waste storage in Japan had not been adequately measured in the past.

IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said that the Agency remains confident in its conclusion that no nuclear material has been diverted from Japans Tokai Reprocessing Plant. The IAEA has been working with Japanese authorities and the Plants operators to introduce improved measurement techniques there; the Agency has been inspecting that facility since 1977.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS SECURITY COUNCIL-SANCTIONS: The Security Council committee on sanctions against Al-Qaida has added two more individuals to its list, which is updated regularly on the basis of information provided by member states and regional organizations.

RWANDA TRIBUNAL: Carla Del Ponte, the prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, announced today that the Secretary-General has appointed Bongani Christopher Majola of South Africa, previously the head of the South African Legal Resources Centre, as the Tribunals deputy prosecutor. Majola arrived in Arusha, Tanzania, on Tuesday and will take up his duties immediately. Del Ponte also announced that she has recommended the appointment of Melanie Gertrude Werrett, a British and Zimbabwean national, as the Chief of Prosecutions for the Tribunal.

SIERRA LEONE: The UN Development Programmes Governance Unit is working with justice officials in Sierra Leone so that judges, clerks and bailiffs in that country can receive intensive training this month to work in rural areas during Sierra Leones post-conflict period. Magistrate courts resumed work in northern Sierra Leone last November, for the first time in five years, and UNDP is helping to provide training for 87 court officers on legal and judicial principles and procedures, human rights and related topics.

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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