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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-06-10

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, June 10, 2003

ANNAN ON MIDDLE EAST: LATEST ATTACK LIKELY TO COMPLICATE PEACE EFFORTS

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement, expressed his serious concern over todays attempted extra-judicial killing by the Israel Defence Forces of a senior Hamas political leader in Gaza. He reiterates his consistent opposition to such actions. Todays action is likely to complicate even further the efforts by Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to halt violence and terrorism by Palestinian groups.

The Secretary-General condemned the killing in todays attack of Palestinian civilians, including a mother and her three-year-old daughter. He called again on the Government of Israel to desist from the disproportionate use of force, especially in densely populated areas.

The Secretary-General believes that Israelis and Palestinians face a stark choice. Either they follow the Road Map that leads to the establishment of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security; or they take the low road that spirals down into an endless cycle of violence, counter-violence and revenge. Events of the past few days illustrate in graphic form the consequences of the latter course.

The Secretary-General therefore urges the leaders on both sides to show the wisdom, courage and restraint needed to commit themselves to implementing the Road Map, as part of the search for a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement in the Middle East.

UNDER-FUNDED UN AGENCY HANDS OVER NEW HOMES TO FAMILIES IN GAZA

Today the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) handed over 19 new homes to Palestinian refugee families from camps in Gaza whose shelters had been destroyed by Israeli forces.

According to the Agency's figures, by May 31, 2003, a total of 1,134 shelters, home to over 10,049 refugee and non-refugee Palestinians, had been destroyed or damaged beyond repair in the Gaza Strip since the start of the conflict in September 2000.

In the Gaza Strip, UNRWA has now built a total of 132 new houses with 185 under construction. While this has been made possible thanks to generous contributions from a number of donors, UNRWA still needs more than $16 million to meet the current requirements for a further 700 new refugee shelters throughout the Strip.

UN ENVOY IN IRAQ HOLDS MORE TALKS WITH POLITICAL LEADERS

In Baghdad today, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello told a prominent Iraqi political leader and senior member of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, that the United Nations was bringing its experience and independence to the Iraqi people, to help them in the full restoration of their sovereignty and their civil, political, economic and social rights. They discussed issues related to the current transition and explored how to advance the political process. They agreed to continue these consultations.

On Wednesday, Vieira de Mello is expected to meet the leader of Al-Da'wa Party, Ibrahim al-Ja'afari, in the context of his continuing consultations with political leaders.

ANNAN NAMES ACTING CHAIRMAN OF UN WEAPONS INSPECTORS IN IRAQ

With the departure of Hans Blix at the end of this month, and pending a Security Council decision on future arrangements of implementing its resolutions on the disarmament of Iraq, the Secretary-General has decided to designate Demetrius Perricos as the Acting Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). This appointment will be in effect as of July 1.

Perricos is currently Deputy Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC. Prior to that appointment, in January of this year, he served for three years as Director of Planning and Operations for the Commission.

A native of Greece, Perricos joined the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1972 as a nuclear safeguards inspector. In his 28-year career at the agency, he had extensive experience in Iraq, notably after the end of the Gulf War in 1991. He also led the IAEA team that certified the dismantling of South Africas nuclear weapons program.

UN ENVOY IN MYANMAR VISITS DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI

The Secretary-General welcomed the report from his Special Envoy for Myanmar, Razali Ismail, that he saw Daw Aung San Suu Kyi today, and that she is uninjured and in good spirits.

Razali met with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi shortly before he left Yangon Tuesday to wind up his five-day mission to Myanmar. He undertook his 10th mission from June 6 to 10 under a specific instruction from the Secretary-General to see Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who had been held incommunicado under protective custody since the violent clashes that took place between her supporters and pro-government protesters in northern Myanmar on May 30.

However, the Secretary-General remains seriously concerned about the fact that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD) are still denied freedom of movement. He, once again, strongly urges the Government of Myanmar to release her and other NLD leaders from the continued detention immediately and begin a dialogue aimed at national reconciliation without further delay.

At the same time, he calls on the international community, and especially countries in the region, to join in his appeal to safeguard the process of national reconciliation and democratization in Myanmar, which continues to represent the only guarantee for progress towards prosperity and stability. He continues to believe that the present situation is not merely a question of law and order, but rather one that derives from the political aspirations of the Myanmar people, who are overwhelmingly in favor of change.

The Special Envoy intends to visit New York later this month to discuss with the Secretary-General and representatives of the international community, especially the countries of the region, future steps that need to be taken to implement the mandate given by the General Assembly to facilitate national reconciliation and democratization in Myanmar.

In response to questions, the Spokesman said he could not confirm media comments in which Razali is to have predicted that Aung San Suu Kyi could be released in two weeks, and that he did not expect Razali to visit Yangon again before he comes to New York.

DIRE HUMANITARIAN SITUATION EMERGING IN LIBERIAN CAPITAL

A dire humanitarian situation is reported in Monrovia, where tens of thousands of displaced Liberians have converged on the capital in search of safety.

According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as of Monday, the Government of Liberia had registered some 5,000 internally displaced persons at the national stadium. Local staff of non-governmental organizations are working to supply the people at the sports complex with high protein biscuits, water and sanitation facilities, and shelter materials.

The Liberian Red Cross has been distributing blankets, mats and jerry cans to displaced persons sheltering at schools in central Monrovia. The price of petrol and rice are reported to have more than doubled in places where they are available in Monrovia.

The World Food Programme, meanwhile, has called on the warring parties to open rapidly humanitarian corridors so that aid could be delivered.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed its concern over national staff and their families, as well as over the fate of some 15,000 Sierra Leonean refugees in the Monrovia area. UNHCR also said the eastern part of Liberia remains a major concern.

SECURITY COUNCIL TO TAKE UP LIBERIA WEDNESDAY, INT'L CRIMINAL COURT THURSDAY

In a letter to the Security Council, the Secretary-General has re-appointed four members, and appointed two new members, to the Panel of Experts dealing with Liberia sanctions for a period of five months.

The Security Council, which heard a briefing Monday afternoon on Liberia, is scheduled to hold further discussions on the matter Wednesday in consultations.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals views on a draft resolution before the Security Council requesting the International Criminal Court to continue to defer investigations of certain nationals involved in UN-authorized or approved missions, the Spokesman said that that Secretary-General was waiting to see how the Council itself deals with the matter. He noted that an open debate in the Council was to be held on that topic on Thursday.

SECURITY COUNCIL INFORMED OF CHALLENGES IN KOSOVO

Following consultations on Cyprus this morning, in which Security Council members considered a draft resolution on the extension of the UN peacekeeping mission in that country, the Security Council began an open meeting on Kosovo.

Council members heard a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hédi Annabi, who said that, four years into the UN Missions mandate there, it has seen successes but still faces challenges, including freedom of movement, meaningful minority participation, returns, the development of local bodies and dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.

The fact that Kosovo still has some ways to go, he said, was highlighted in the most horrific way when three members of a Kosovo Serb family were beaten to death in Obilic last week, after which their house was set on fire. A nine-member UN special police squad was established to investigate the crime, working with advisers from both the Kosovo Serb and Kosovo Albanian communities.

SECURITY COUNCIL MISSION WRAPS UP VISIT TO ANGOLA

The Security Councils mission to central Africa, led by Frances Ambassador to the United Nations, Jean-Marc de la Sablière, has arrived in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Earlier this morning in Luanda, Angola, the mission met with President José Eduardo Dos Santos. On the agenda were the eastern DRC and the Congolese political process.

Upon his arrival at Kinshasa airport, Ambassador de la Sabliere made a statement emphasizing the "need to stop the fighting in eastern DRC, both in Ituri and the Kivus " and called for the completion of the peace process with the expected establishment of the transitional government as soon as possible. He also stressed the grave violations of human rights in eastern Congo resulting from the ongoing fighting.

UN HUMAN RIGHTS HEAD URGES SUPPORT FOR BOSNIA RIGHTS CHAMBER

On Thursday, the Peace Implementation Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina will discuss the future of that countrys Human Rights Chamber, and in a letter to Bosnias High Representative, Paddy Ashdown, Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan urges that no decision be taken to end that Chambers functions.

He writes that human rights protections are the very cornerstone of the Dayton Peace Agreement for Bosnia, and that the Human Rights Chamber is still needed to ensure such protection.

ERITREA AND ETHIOPIA IN NEED OF HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE

Carolyn McAskie, the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, arrived in Asmara, today for a two-day visit to see firsthand the humanitarian situation in Eritrea and encourage support for the 2003 Consolidated Appeal. Humanitarian agencies have received just 43 percent of the $157 million required for their operations in that country for this year.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has sent emergency agricultural assistance to Ethiopian farmers who have been heavily hit by the drought. An estimated 12.6 million Ethiopians are now in need of food aid. FAO's emergency agricultural projects, worth some $4.3 million, aim to help farmers cope with the crisis now and manage better in the future.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

UN SEEKING CONFIRMATION OF HOSTAGE RELEASE IN GEORGIA: The UN Mission in Georgia reported that, despite news reports, as of noon it cannot confirm the release of the four UN personnel taken hostage in the upper Kodori Valley last Wednesday.

SECRETARY-GENERALS TRAVELS: Asked whether the Secretary-General would visit Washington, D.C., the Spokesman said that the United Nations would await an announcement by the U.S. State Department before making an announcement, likely later today.

FIRST SIGNINGS OF TOBACCO CONVENTION TO TAKE PLACE: The World Health Organization has announced today that the first signing ceremony for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control will be held in Geneva on Monday, June 16. As soon as 40 countries ratify the Convention, it becomes international law.

TREATY SIGNINGS: Sweden today became the 57th country to sign the Tampere Convention on the Provision of Telecommunication Resources for Disaster Mitigation and Relief Operations and Cyprus became the 29th signatory of the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court.

PEACE CRANES DELIVERED TO UNITED NATIONS: Last month, the residents, staff and family members of Beacon Brook Health Center, a nursing home in Naugatuck, Connecticut, constructed 100 origami cranes, and then sent them to the United Nations as a symbol of their hopes for world peace. The cranes have been a symbol of peace ever since Hiroshima was hit by a nuclear bomb at the end of the Second World War, when one Japanese girl who had been exposed to radiation started making origami cranes, in the hope that those birds would protect her from illness. After she died, her classmates finished making 100 paper cranes and buried them with her.

style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-weight: 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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