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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-06-26

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






Thursday, June 26, 2003


The ability of humanitarian workers to assist those in need in Liberia has dwindled further. Before fighting erupted around Monrovia on June 5, humanitarian workers had access to barely 30 percent of Liberia. With the recent fighting in Monrovia, humanitarian workers are increasingly unable to assist even those in need in the capital. UN offices today remain closed, and national staff have been instructed to remain at home

With a cholera outbreak affecting as many as 500 people, and reports from non-governmental organizations indicating that hundreds of civilians have been wounded or killed, the need for medical care is critical. However, the United Nations has received reports that the Redemption Hospital in Monrovia is closed.

In an interview with UN Radio today, Abou Moussa, the Secretary-Generals Representative for Liberia, flagged his teams strong concern for the victims of the fighting. Moussa said he hopes that there will be a stop to the war so that UN staff might go back and attend to the needs of the population.


Secretary-General Kofi Annan left London today for Geneva, where he will have a working luncheon with the heads of UN agencies on Friday and will address the High-Level segment of the Economic and Social Council next Monday.

On Thursday afternoon, following his meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Secretary-General met with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, with whom he discussed the upcoming review in October toward meeting the Millennium Development Goals. They also touched on the private sectors role in development, the economic situation in Iraq, development prospects in the Middle East, the New Partnership for Africas Development, the Doha round of trade talks and the UN budget.

The Secretary-General then met with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. They discussed the Middle East, including Iran, and then talked about Zimbabwe, the Rwanda Tribunal, the war in Liberia and UN reform.

At a press encounter afterward, the Secretary-General called on Uganda and Rwanda to cooperate in maintaining peace along their common border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Asked about whether UN troops were needed in Iraq, the Secretary-General noted that the Security Council, in Resolution 1483, gave the responsibility for creating a secure environment to the occupying powers. And quite frankly, he added, I doubt that we will have the capacity to take on that responsibility at this stage. He said that security in Iraq should be left to a multinational force or to the Coalition.


This morning the Security Council met in closed consultations to be briefed by Benon Sevan, Executive Director of the Iraq Programme. He updated Council members on the delivery of humanitarian goods to Iraq as well as the wind-down of the oil for food program, as mandated by resolution 1483. The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ramiro Lopes da Silva, was also present during consultations and answered questions from members.

Earlier, in two back-to-back open meetings, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1488, which extends the mandate of the UN Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights (UNDOF) by six months, and resolution 1489, which extends the mandate of the UN mission in the DRC by one month.


Following the adoption of the resolution on the UN Mission in the DRC, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed the Council on the latest situation in Kivu, in the north-eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where there have been reports of intensified fighting between rival militias.

In other developments, the official deadline for the withdrawal of Union of Congolese Patriots troops from Bunia ended Wednesday at noon, and the UN Mission reported that the withdrawal is in progress. Bunia has been declared an arms free town and it has become illegal to carry weapons of any type in the town.

In Kinshasa, the 68 representatives of the political opposition to the Inter-Congolese Dialogue are scheduled to meet under the auspices of the International Committee for Support to the Transition and in the presence of the Follow Up Commission today. The object of the meeting is to designate members from the committee who will form a part of the transitional government. Their failure to take a decision on representatives has been one of the stumbling blocks for the formation of the transition government.

After the Council meeting ended, Council President Sergey Lavrov of Russia read a statement to the press, in which Council members strongly condemned the recent escalation of fighting in the east, and particularly in the Kivus, and called on all Congolese parties to overcome their differences peacefully.


Ambassador Heraldo Munoz of Chile, Chairman of the Security Council Committee on Al Qaeda sanctions, and Michael Chandler, Chairman of the Monitoring Group of those sanctions, briefed the press today on the groups latest report, which says that, from May 19-31, there were marked successes in the fight against the al-Qaeda network and efforts to find and detain key al-Qaeda leaders. This has lead to the break-up of cells in a number of countries and the detention of substantial numbers of the networks supporters and operatives.

But the report goes on to say that, as recent events have demonstrated with bombings in Saudi Arabia, Chechnya, Morocco, and Afghanistan, al-Qaeda and its associated groups still pose a significant threat to international peace and security. They retain strong appeal among Islamic extremist elements around the world and are able to draw on a substantial number of cadres trained in Afghanistan or in other training centers associated with the al-Qaeda network. There are also indications that the al-Qaeda network has been able to reconstitute its levels of support.

The report gives a number of recommendations and both Ambassador Munoz and Michael Chandler appealed for sustained international effort, information and coordination, saying, We have a long way to go.


The Security Council mission to West Africa should be arriving in Guinea-Bissau, which, in the words of the head of mission was a question of peace-building, or trying to get a sensitive and fragile internal situation going better.

British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock is the mission leader, but Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser of Mexico is leading the Guinea Bissau leg of the trip. The Security Council is working closely with the Economic and Social Council on the issue of Guinea Bissau, and ECOSOC representatives are on that leg of the mission.


On Saturday, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, will travel to the city of Najaf to meet with political and religious leaders, in his continuing effort to reach out to a wide spectrum of Iraqi society, both in Baghdad and the provinces.

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) outlined its assistance plan for the upcoming winter harvest in Iraq. To help farmers with their planting, FAO will be supplying fertilizers. FAO, along with the World Food Programme, is also involved in the purchase of wheat and barley crops from Iraqi farmers who are unable to market their production.

The UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) today will sponsor a panel discussion on Women's Role in Post-Conflict Iraq. In cooperation with Women Waging Peace, UNIFEM will discuss how it has worked within the UN Development Group to prepare guidelines for carrying out gender-sensitive needs assessments.


Terje Roed-Larsen, the UN Special Co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, will leave Friday on an eight-day regional tour of Arab capitals.

He will meet with senior government officials in Beirut, Damascus, Amman and Cairo to follow up on last weeks Quartet meeting in Jordan. Roed-Larsen will engage in consultations on implementation of the Road Map and discuss possible ways for the Quartets regional partners to assist in this process.


DAY IN SUPPORT OF VICTIMS OF TORTURE: Today is the International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture, and the Secretary-General, in a message to mark the occasion, says we still have a long way to go in stamping out torture. He urges nations to ratify the Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol, and also calls for generous contributions to the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, which last year supported projects providing assistance to about 100,000 torture victims.

INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST DRUG ABUSE: In a message to mark the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, the Secretary-General says that the best starting point for tackling any problem is recognizing that it exists and speaking openly about it. Its time to talk about drugs, and admit there is a problem, with an estimated 200 million people worldwide using illicit drugs, he says.

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT ELECTS REGISTRAR: On Wednesday, the International Criminal Court elected its first registrar, French legal expert Bruno Cathala, completing the roster of its senior officials. He was sworn in on the first ballot. Cathala previously served as the Deputy Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

YUGOSLAVIA TRIBUNAL CONSIDERS PLEA AGREEMENT: Today in The Hague, a trial chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia held a hearing to consider a plea agreement between prosecutors and Predrag Banovic, a Bosnian Serb prison guard accused of torture at the Keraterm camp, who agreed to plead guilty to one count of persecution, a crime against humanity, in exchange for the dropping by prosecutors of the other charges against him. The judges were satisfied with the plea agreement, and a sentencing hearing has been scheduled for September.

UNAIDS URGES MORE FUNDING AGAINST AIDS: A new Joint UN Programme against HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) report on global HIV/AIDS funding, that was issued today, estimates that $4.7 billion will be spent to address the AIDS epidemic in 2003 in low- and middle-income countries, falling far short of the more than $10.5 billion that will be needed annually by 2005 to fight the epidemic in these countries effectively.

UN BUDGET: Mozambique today paid more than 13,500 dollars to become the 89th Member State to pay its regular budget dues in full for the year.

UN INSPECTS SUSPICIOUS PACKAGE: Early this morning, a UN security officer discovered an unidentified package, described as a bag with a canister inside it, at the tent outside the Visitors Entrance. The United Nations called in the New York Police and Fire Departments to help inspect the suspicious package, and closed the Visitors Entrance, suspending tours for this morning. All the tests came back negative, and the Visitors Entrance is to re-open this afternoon.

  • The guest at the noon briefing was Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Carolyn McAskie, who discussed her visit to Ethiopia and Eritrea.

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