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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-12-31

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

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

[Instead of Noon Briefings this week, highlights of daily developments in the UN system will be provided on this page; Briefings will resume on Friday, January 2, 2004]

UN TO LAUNCH A FLASH APPEAL FOR IRANS EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS

The United Nations will launch a Flash Appeal on the 8th of January for the victims of the Bam earthquake in Iran, the UNs humanitarian department announced today. The Appeal will cover relief, recovery and early rehabilitation needs for the next three months.

In Bam, international relief efforts are shifting from search and rescue to relief assistance. At least 1,400 relief flights have landed since the quake hit the city of 80,000 people on 26 December.

UN agencies are assisting the Iranian Government and the Red Crescent Society in delivering tents, blankets, food, clothing and medical assistance. Red Crescent has treated 30,000 casualties in the past four days. Five field hospitals have been set up around Bam and five more will be up and running tomorrow.

Ted Pearn of the UNs humanitarian department, which is coordinating relief efforts, says that 28,000 deaths have been registered and the remains buried. It is not known how many survivors remain in Bam, as there was a mass exodus immediately after the quake, with survivors going to stay with friends and relatives in surrounding villages. What is clear is that many people still in Bam are living in makeshift shelters, and the temperature last night hit freezing, Pearn adds.

Efforts are under way to gather the displaced in tented camps and to distribute kerosene heaters that they have in storage.

UN TRANSFERS $2.6 BILLION TO THE DEVELOPMENT FUND FOR

IRAQ

The United Nations today is transferring $2.6 billion in surplus funds from the Oil for Food Programme to the Development Fund for Iraq, as called for by the Security Council last May.

This is the fourth such transfer since the Council adopted Resolution 1483 on the 22nd of May this year. $1 billion was transferred two days after the resolution was passed. As Oil for Food contracts were reviewed and prioritized, a second billion was transferred in October and a third in November. Todays transfer follows the completion of the prioritization of contracts and the issuance of letters of credit.

Once all UN agencies and programmes that participated in the Oil for Food Programme have reported their 2003 expenditures, the United Nations will officially close its books on the Programme for 2003 and present its financial statement to the UN Board of Auditors. At that time a further transfer of funds will be made to the Development Fund for Iraq.

UN PEACEKEEPERS MOVE FURTHER INTO REBEL-HELD TERRITORY IN LIBERIA

According to the United Nations Mission in Liberia, UNMIL, UN peacekeepers today moved further into territory held up to now by two rebel groups, the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL).

The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Liberia, Abou Moussa, confirmed that an advance team of UN peacekeepers from Bangladesh arrived today in the port city of Buchanan, a MODEL stronghold, and deployed fully.

Another battalion of UN peacekeepers deployed successfully in the LURD stronghold of Gbarnga, after collecting weapons from ex-combatants on the way. A further UN force of Pakistani peacekeepers is en route to the LURD-held city of Tubmanberg.

UN REPORT ON SIERRA LEONE SAYS STABILITY HELPING BRING PEACE

In a report on the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) which was issued yesterday, the Secretary-General said that a stable security situation in that country was facilitating the consolidation of peace. He noted, however, that Sierra Leones security forces still needed to be strengthened and he appealed to the international community to provide assistance in this area.

The Secretary-General said that ongoing efforts to stabilize Liberia

were starting to have a positive impact on the situation in the entire

Mano River region, which encompasses Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and he encouraged regional initiatives on cross-border problems.

He expressed concern about the number of foreign combatants in neighbouring Liberia and of Liberian ex-combatants in Sierra Leone, and said he hoped that repatriation would begin as the peace process took hold in Liberia.

Finally, the Secretary-General reported on successful efforts by the Sierra Leone Government to curb illicit diamond mining and smuggling and he called for the United States and United Kingdoms development agencies to help the Government to manage this vital economic sector.

UN OFFICIAL PROMULGATES REGULATION ON KOSOVO BUDGET

Harri Holkeri, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Kosovo, today promulgated a regulation on the approval of the Kosovo Consolidated Budget and the authorization of expenditures for all of 2004.

The 2004 budget forecasts revenue of 619 million and expenditure of 632 million. The deficit of 13 million will be made up by drawing from the budget surplus in 2003. The budget will be fully financed by Kosovos own revenue the revenue forecast for 2004 is higher compared to the 2003 mid-year budget review figure when 584 million was collected as revenue.

SAMPLES OF CHINAS SUSPECTED SARS CASE TO BE TESTED IN UN HEALTH AGENCY'S LAB NETWORK

China

s Ministry of Health will send samples of a suspected SARS case to the World Health Organizations international reference laboratory network, in an effort to reach a definite conclusion on the nature of the patients illness.

WHO said the samples will be tested at the most appropriate laboratory or laboratories within this network, and this will enhance the already extensive testing done in China itself.

WHO said that while its clear that the male patient, a 32-year-old television producer, has suffered from pneumonia and displayed signs and symptoms that could fit the profile of SARS, such signs and symptoms could also be caused by a large number of other infectious diseases.

SOUTH AFRICA FACES REDUCED CROP YIELDS IN 2004

Much of Southern Africa will have reduced crop yields this year due to the low rainfall which has delayed planting in Lesotho, Swaziland,

South Africa and Mozambique, and those farmers who did plant despite the dry conditions will also receive small crop yields, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

In a note issued today, OCHA said the situations in Lesotho and Swaziland are particularly troubling. By January 2004, once the 2003 harvest has been exhausted, it is expected that the World Food Programme will be feeding an estimated 245 thousand people in Swaziland, about a quarter of the population.

UN REFUGEE AGENCY 2003 A GOOD YEAR IN A BAD WORLD

Looking back at the work of the UNs refugee agency over the past twelve months, its chief, High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers, has described 2003 as a good year in a bad world.

Lubbers said significant progress was made toward finding lasting solutions for some of the 20 million people currently of concern to the agency worldwide. However, Lubbers added, the years positive developments came against a worrisome backdrop of increasing insecurity for humanitarian workers in many parts of the world. He cited the August 19 attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad

that left 22 people dead and the November murder in

Afghanistan

of an agency staff member.

Looking ahead to 2004, Lubbers said the agency would now focus on strengthening its overall capacity to carry out its mandate.

UNICEF NAMES TOP FIVE CONCERNS FOR CHILDREN IN 2004

The UNs childrens agency, UNICEF, is marking the New Year by calling attention to the immediate needs of children in developing countries in 2004. It today named the top five concerns for children for the upcoming year: child survival, the effects of HIV/AIDS, children caught in war, exploitation, and insufficient investment.

UNICEFs executive director, Carol Bellamy said education is the single best way to tackle these problems over the long term, as it provides children with a chance of growing into independent adults who can protect their own health and rights, as well as a better chance of escaping a life of poverty and hardship.

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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