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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-08-01

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

DAILY HIGHLIGHTS

Friday, 1 August 1997


This document is prepared by the Central News Section of the Department of Public Information and is updated every week-day at approximately 6:00 PM.

HEADLINES

  • UN Secretary-General appoints two of three human rights investigators for the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • UN Secretary-General welcomes positive outcome of talks between leaders of the Cypriot community.
  • World Food Programme protests the requisition of its food stores by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council in Sierra Leone.
  • UN food agency completes distribution of free food rations to Rwandan returnees.
  • UN refugee agency comes to the aid of Cambodian civilians fleeing to escape fighting.
  • Working Group on Indigenous Populations concludes its annual session in Geneva.
  • UN committee charged with preparing a convention for an international criminal court is to convene in New York on Monday.


UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday appointed two of three human rights investigators for the Democratic Republic of Congo. The UN leader named Atsu Koffi Amega of Togo as chairman of an investigative team to look into alleged human rights abuses in Congo-Kinshasha. Mr. Amega, the former President of the Supreme Court of Justice in Togo, had been head of the Commission of Experts for Rwanda created by the Security Council to investigate the massacres in that country in 1994. He also headed the Secretary-General's fact-finding mission to Nigeria in 1996, which looked into the trial and execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and others.

The Secretary-General also announced the appointment of Andrew R. Chigovera, the Deputy Attorney-General of Zimbabwe, as member of the investigative team. Mr. Chigovera is a member of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The appointment of the third member of the investigative team is expected in the next few days.


UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has welcomed the positive outcome of the talks between the leaders of the Cypriot communities in Nicosia on Thursday, a UN spokesman said. Spokesman Fred Eckhard said on Friday that the talks, the second such meeting between the Turkish Cypriot community leader Rauf Denktash, and the leader of the Greek Cypriot community, Glafcos Clerides were held under the auspices of the United Nations.

According to the Spokesman, the two leaders agreed to continue discussions on the fate of hundreds of missing persons in Cyprus and to provide each other with all the information that was available on the location of the graves of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot persons.


The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has strongly protested against an official order of the military rulers in Sierra Leone laying claim to the agency's food stores in Freetown.

WFP said on Friday the decision of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) to requisition all of its food stores was unacceptable because it was tantamount to the loss of more than 2,000 metric tons of various food commodities remaining in stores, in the capital, Freetown. Francis Mwanza of the Rome-based UN food agency told UN Radio that the situation in Freetown had increasingly become very difficult with regard to the distribution of relief food.

"What is happening is that we are getting armed men occupying warehouses, armed men commandeering our truck that is transporting food to the people in need. I think the situation is so untenable that it is impossible to operate", said Mwanza. The WFP official said that since the May 25 coup, armed men had looted approximately 2,500 metric tons of relief food, enough to feed about 150,000 people for one month. "We are strongly appealing to the authorities to try and bring the situation to normalcy", he said.


The UN World Food Programme (WFP) on Friday announced the completion of an operation in Rwanda which provided six-month food resettlement rations to 1.2 million Rwandan refugees in 153 communes.

WFP said that since the end of January 1997, hundreds of thousands of Rwandans had been receiving a monthly food basket distributed to them in their home communes. The food had been essential for returning refugees who, until now, had been totally reliant on relief food hand- outs.

According to the WFP, the food assistance programme was part of an overall package provided by UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in collaboration with the Government of Rwanda to help reintegrate refugees. It said one of the ultimate aims of the programme was to help refugees quickly return to their home villages, thus avoiding the creation of camps.

The UN food agency said it planned to focus its operations in Rwanda for the remainder of 1997 on the rehabilitation of the agricultural production systems and the infrastructure that was destroyed.


The UN refugee agency said on Friday that it was providing help to some 2, 700 Cambodian civilians who fled into Thailand to escape fighting between the forces of Hun Sen and those loyal to the ousted First Prime Minster, Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the people were allowed to cross the border and had walked some three and a half kilometres inside Thailand. The refugee agency said this was the first time since fighting broke out between the two sides in early July that a large group of Cambodian civilians had crossed the border. UNHCR said some of the civilians were reported to be in poor shape, adding that it was expecting further crossings in the course of the next few days.


The UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations on Friday concluded its annual session in Geneva which focussed on issues relating to environment, land and sustainable development. The Working Group was established in 1982 and is the main international forum on indigenous issues. Experts of the Working Group noted that although indigenous peoples had protected the environment over the centuries, few have had their role as guardians of nature confirmed. Instead, the Group said too often, indigenous people were excluded from the political process. During its session the Working Group also discussed the creation of a permanent forum within the United Nations structure for indigenous peoples.
A UN committee charged with preparing a widely acceptable convention for an international criminal court will convene for the fourth time at United Nations Headquarters on Monday to continue its work on the court's draft statute.

The Preparatory Committee on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court will take up the issue of complementarity, which involves the relationship between the international criminal court and national jurisdiction. The Committee will also consider the issue of the "trigger" mechanism which refers to the question of which actors could initiate court proceedings. It will also consider various procedural matters.


For information purposes only - - not an official record

From the United Nations home page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org


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