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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-01-31

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:









Friday, January 31, 2003


The Security Council met this morning on Afghanistan in an open meeting, followed by closed consultations.

In his briefing to the Council, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, reviewed the first year of the Bonn peace process, noting that major political milestones were reached on time, including the holding of the Emergency Loya Jirga and the establishment of the Transitional Administration.

However, Brahimi underscored that the peace process in Afghanistan would need to progress much further before one could safely say that it was irreversible. He highlighted security problems that the country was still facing, which were illustrated by a bus explosion today in which 16 passengers died."

Brahimi also updated the Council on the situation in the judicial sector, whose reform, he said, was one of the greatest challenges that the Administration was facing.

He concluded that Afghans are watching closely developments elsewhere with a sense of fear that they may be forgotten again, saying that they understand how vulnerable they still are to forces that, if unchecked, may consume them again and undo the significant progress that has been made in the past year.

Today is the last day of the French presidency of the Security Council.

Starting Saturday, February 1, Germany assumes the Council presidency for the month of February. Ambassador Gunter Pleuger of Germany has scheduled a press conference Tuesday on the Councils program of work for the month.


A team from the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) today performed aerial inspections over a number of sites for the first time, including a number of biological and agricultural research facilities.

Other UNMOVIC teams also conducted inspections by car. Sites visited include a factory that produces a wide range of shell bodies and fuses for rockets.


The Secretary-Generals Humanitarian Envoy for the crisis in Cote dIvoire, Carolyn McAskie, continued her mission to West Africa with a stop in Burkina Faso today.

In Ouagadougou, in her meeting with President Blaise Compaore, McAskie was told that the economic impacts of the crisis include losses in revenue for Burkina Faso's private sector and increases in the prices of consumer goods. The United Nations estimates that some 60,000 migrant workers have returned to Burkina Faso from Cote dIvoire since violence erupted in September.

Over the weekend, McAskie will go to Liberia, where she plans to visit Ivoirian refugees staying in camps there.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) today reiterated an urgent appeal, voiced a week ago by McAskie, to ensure the security and protection of human rights of that countrys civilian population.

In her meeting with Ivoirian President Laurent Gbagbo on January 23, McAskie raised her concern about the destruction of shantytowns in Abidjan, despite the Presidents declaration last October that such destruction would be halted. In the days that followed, however, attacks on several shantytowns have taken place.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has now resumed most of its operations in Côte d'Ivoire after a three-day suspension, following unrest in Abidjan and general insecurity in the rest of the country last weekend.

Many refugees, increasingly worried following recent developments in the country, have asked to be transported as quickly as possible to Liberia. Refugees are still being targeted in various parts of the country, and UNHCR says it remains very concerned about the general security situation.


Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos met Thursday with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Angola, Ibrahim Gambari, who afterwards called for a spirit of new partnership in order to overcome the new challenges.

Amongst the challenges he pointed out were the reintegration of demobilized combatants into society, demining, technical assistance for the preparation of the next elections and the holding of an international donors conference.

His proposals on how best the United Nations could continue to assist the Government and the people of Angola after February 2003 will be included in the Secretary-Generals forthcoming report to the Security Council.

Also in Angola, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, James Morris, said today that Angola needs immediate and strong participation from many players to respond to mounting humanitarian needs in the country as it emerges from years of devastation caused by war.

Morriss trip comes at a time when humanitarian agencies face significant challenges in Angola, such as the ongoing effort to ensure that food aid is delivered to a growing number of fragile communities.

While the number of WFP beneficiaries in the country averages 1.74 million, a recent vulnerability study indicates that the number of people in need of food aid may grow as high as 2.4 million in the lead-up to the April/ May 2003 harvest.


The World Food Programme announced today the start of an airlift operation to bring food to more than 100,000 people in the town of Bunia, in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

These people have stranded by the recent fighting in the area. The food, which will include maize, flours and beans, will be sufficient to feed the local population, which consists mostly of women and children, for about a month.


The UN Mission in Timor-Leste said that, today at around 3:30 p.m., local time, a civilian aircraft crashed into the mountains near Baucau while attempting to land at Baucau airfield in conditions of poor visibility.Six Russian crew members were on board, and it is feared that all may have lost their lives. Five bodies have been recovered so far.

Shortly after the news was received, a Civil Aviation Disaster Committee was formed at the direction of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste, Kamalesh Sharma, and medical evacuation teams were dispatched to the area. Sharma assured all parties that the UN Mission would assist in every way possible at this difficult time.


Next Monday, Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and Sandeep Chawla, chief of the Offices Research Section, will present to the press in New York a new study, The Opium Economy in Afghanistan: An International Problem.

That report analyses developments that have made Afghanistan the worlds top producer of illicit opium and suggests ways to deal with that problem in the long run. The Office on Drugs and Crime has conducted annual opium poppy surveys in Afghanistan since 1994, and has estimated, during that period, a 15-fold increase in Afghan opium production since the Soviet invasion in 1979.

Also on Monday, the International Narcotics Control Board will begin a five-day meeting in Vienna, in which it will focus on the impact of drugs, crime and violence on individuals, families and neighborhoods.

Among other things, the Board will also review the findings of a study looking at the various existing penalties around the world for drug trafficking, and discuss a recent meeting on daily doses of narcotic drugs for medical treatment.


The UN Mission in Sierra Leone presented to Sierra Leones Government a Diamonds for Development initiative designed to help finance community welfare projects in diamond producing areas. The initiative is also seen as an incentive for legal mining, through the issuance of licenses, with the local communities to derive benefits from those fees.

The proposal was conveyed by the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Alan Doss, to the Minister of Mineral Resources, who strongly welcomed it.

The UN Development Program is involved in the financing and the civil affairs staff from the UN mission in Sierra Leone will work with these communities to identify feasible projects


US Health Secretary Tommy Thompson was today elected Chairman of the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.He succeeds Chrispus Kiyonga of Uganda, the Boards first Chairman.

Also at the meeting of the Board in Switzerland, grants worth $866 million were awarded to projects in 60 countries. Sixty percent of the money awarded will go to projects to fight AIDS, with 70 percent of the projects to include a mother-to-child transmission component.


KOSOVO: The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) published a new position paper on the continued need for international protection for some people from Kosovo, in particular members of Serb, Roma, and some other minorities. UNHCR believes the general situation in Kosovo has improved over the past year, but the security situation of minorities continues to be a major cause for concern. The level of risk varies according to the particular group and their location.

AFGHANISTAN: The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) today announced a week-long campaign to immunise thousands of Afghan women against tetanus as part of a global campaign to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus by 2005. Running from February 2-8, health workers and volunteers aim to reach some 740,000 Afghan women aged 15 to 45. A recent study by UNICEF and the US Centers for Disease Control and Surveillance revealed that almost half of all deaths among Afghan women between the ages of 15 and 49 are a direct result of pregnancy and childbirth.

KENYA: Two weeks after pledging $2.5 million to assist the Government of Kenya with its free primary education program, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) today handed over the first consignment of supplies. Todays consignment, which included exercise books, pencils, pens, slates, chalk, footballs, volleyballs and skipping ropes, will be distributed to schools in Nairobi.

HEALTH: The World Health Organization announced the publication of guidelines to help governments minimize the threat of acts of terrorism against food supplies. The document looks at means of establishing basic prevention, surveillance and response capacities and integrating terrorism prevention in existing national food safety and disease surveillance programs.

UN BUDGET: So far today, one more Member State has paid its 2003 regular budget in full. Slovenia made a payment of over $1 million to become the 35th fully paid up Member State. Today is the last day of the 30-day period during which Member States can pay their dues on time. After today, unpaid dues will be considered as arrears.

STAMPS: The UN Postal Administration today launched a new series of stamps on Indigenous Art. The new issues, of six designs in each of the three denominations of the Postal Administration, feature indigenous art from Latin America.

DISARMAMENT: The Spokeswoman said after the briefing that Iran had dropped out from the rotating presidency of the Disarmament Conference, and, consequently, Iraq would take over as Conference President on March 17. No reason was given by Iran. This is not the first time a country has given up the presidency, she added.

NEWS CENTRE: The UN News Centre today launched an Arabic-language version, as part of the Department of Public Informations continuing effort to ensure multilungual development of the UN web site.


Ambassador Gunter Pleuger of Germany, President of the Security Council for February, is expected to discuss the Councils program of work in bilateral consultations with other Council members.

The guests at the noon briefing will be Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and Sandeep Chawla, chief of the Offices Research Section, who will present a new study, The Opium Economy in Afghanistan: An International Problem.

In New York, a week-long resumption of the Assembly of States Parties for the International Criminal Court will begin, during which the involved States will consider the election of judges for the Court.

The Governing Council of the UN Environment Programme will start a weeklong meeting in Nairobi. A global assessment of mercury pollution, to be launched Monday, and the environmental condition of conflict areas, from the Middle East to Afghanistan, will be among the crucial issues to be discussed by the world's Environment Ministers.

In Vienna, the International Narcotics Control Board will meet for a five-day session.

Tuesday, February 4 The Security Council is expected to hold consultations on its program of work for February. Afterward, the Council President, Ambassador Gunter Pleuger of Germany, will brief the press.

Wednesday, February 5

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is expected to brief the Security Council on Iraq.

The Secretary-Generals Advisory Board on Disarmament will meet in New York through Friday.

At 12:45 p.m., French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin will brief the press.

In Paris, the Goodwill Ambassadors for the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will hold their third yearly meeting, chaired by Director-General Koichiro Matsuura.

Thursday, February 6

At 11:15 a.m., Lebanese Ambassador Houssam Asaad Diab will hold a press briefing to present the annual report on developments and regional integration in the Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA), which will also be launched in Beirut.

Friday, February 7

At 11:15 a.m., there will be a briefing to present a report by Economists Allied for Arms Reductions and the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation on missile defence, with speakers to include Nobel laureates Lawrence Klein and Joseph Stiglitz.

Ambassador Zeid Raad Zeid al-Hussein of Jordan and William Pace, Convenor of the International Criminal Court, will brief the press following the end of the Assembly of States Parties on the International Criminal Court.

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:

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