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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-12-23

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, December 23, 2003

ANNAN CONDEMNS ISRAELI INCURSION INTO GAZA

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement issued through his Spokesman, strongly condemns the latest military incursion in the

Gaza

refugee

camp

Rafah

, in which at least eight Palestinians, many of them civilians, have died.

Dozens more have been wounded, including many children, and several houses destroyed. He sends his condolences to the families of the victims.

The Secretary-General reiterates that

Israel, as the occupying power, must protect the civilian population and desist from using disproportionate force.

He strongly urges the Government of Israel to refrain from such violent actions and return to peaceful negotiations with its Palestinian partners according to the Quartets Road Map.

SECURITY COUNCIL WELCOMES LIBYA'S WMD ANNOUNCEMENT

The Security Council issued a press statement late Tuesday welcoming the announcement made on December 19 by the Libyan Government that it will abandon voluntarily its programmes for developing weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, and that it will fulfill and enhance its commitments under the relevant non-proliferation regimes. The Security Council said it looked forward to the early implementation of all the commitments made in the announcement including the subjection to urgent international verification.

There are no meetings or consultations of the Security Council scheduled today. As of today, there is also nothing on the Council programme for the rest of the month.

Published today as Security Council document is a letter from

Libya

to the Security Council President transmitting a communiqué regarding

Libyas position on treaties and conventions relating to the elimination of all types of weapons of mass destruction.

Yesterday, the Security Council voted unanimously to renew the mandate of the UN Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights for a further six months, until 30 June 2004 .

The Council then unanimously adopted resolution to maintain sanctions on Liberia.

Then, the Council adopted a presidential statement on Burundi in which members requested the Secretary-General to undertake the appropriate preparatory work and assessment on how the United Nations might provide the most efficient support for the full implementation of the Arusha peace agreement.

IRAQ MEETING MAY BE HELD LATER THAN JANUARY 15, 2004

Asked for an update on the meeting the Secretary-General had proposed to hold on January 15th with the Iraqi Governing Council and the Coalition Provisional Authority, the Spokesman said that January 15th may not be the most convenient date for the Governing Council so dates later in January are also being looked at.

Asked if the Coalition Provisional Authority had accepted the invitation from the Secretary-General, the Spokesman said that he had nothing further to add beyond the conversations the Secretary-General had had with senior American officials during which they had reacted positively to the idea of this meeting.

The Spokesman went on to add that the Secretary-Generals preference would be to hold a trilateral meeting but, if a suitable date can not be found, sequential meetings could achieve the same results.

Asked if the Secretary-General was directly involved in the current round of talks between the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Governing Council on the political transition, the Spokesman said that he was not aware of direct involvement and that the United Nations was staying informed of the situation through indirect contacts.

Asked if the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) had been involved in dealing the fate the Iranian Mujahadeen who are being expelled from Iraq, the Spokesman later told the correspondent that UNHCR and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) discussed the issue and the ICRC advised that it considers these people to be of concern to the ICRC. UNHCR agreed, and advises that questions be directed to the ICRC.

SUDANESE REFUGEES IN CHAD TO BE MOVED FROM VOLATILE BORDER

As large numbers of Sudanese refugees continue arriving in eastern Chad, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) plans to move an initial group of 10,000 from the volatile border to a safer site further inland.

This month alone, an estimated 25,000 Sudanese refugees have fled fighting in western

Sudan

's Darfur region and entered eastern

Chad

, bringing the total influx since April to 91,000 people.

UNHCR says some estimates place the number of internally displaced Sudanese in the Darfur region at over 600,000.

This displacement is the latest in 20 years of civil conflicts that have uprooted more than 4 million people inside Sudan, and driven another 570,000 into neighbouring countries.

SITUATION IN NORTH EAST DR CONGO IS DESPERATE

A UN humanitarian mission which recently visited the region of Haut-Uele in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo found that peoples lives are being held together by only a desperate thread.

According to the mission, the inhabitants of the main town of

Isiro

lack clean water and proper nutrition, and more than 100 thousand people are without work. In addition, meningitis has been confirmed in the area and is likely to spread with the onset of the dry season.

The mission also says that the town bears the traces of one of the most ferocious rebellions in the DRCs civil war.

The local population complains of harassment by the army and the police, the levying of irregular taxes, and continued military recruitment, especially of children.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

ANNAN HONORS FORMER SOVIET AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: In a statement issued through his Spokesman, the Secretary-General said he was saddened to learn of the death of Oleg Alexandrovich Troyanovsky, the veteran Russian diplomat and former Permanent Representative of the

USSR

to the United Nations. He was a brilliant diplomat who represented his country with singular expertise and adroitness at an acutely challenging time in the world and the history of the Organization. He combined a profound understanding of the indispensability of the United Nations with exceptional charm, humor, eloquence and flair. The Secretary-General sends his condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Troyanovsky, as well as the Government of the

Russian Federation

.

2004 IS YEAR AGAINST SLAVERY: 2004 has been designated by the General Assembly as International Year to Commemorate the Struggle against Slavery and its Abolition. The Director General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Koichiro Matsuura, has issued a message to ensure universal awareness of the tragedy of slavery, which he says constitutes one of the darkest chapters in the history of the world.

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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