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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-08-12

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

DAILY HIGHLIGHTS

Tuesday, 12 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 Security Council reiterates its concern about UNITA's failure to advance the peace process in Angola.
  • UN Secretary-General concludes visit to Sweden, travels to Finland.
  • UN seeks emergency food aid for 1.75 million people in war- ravaged Afghanistan.
  • UN refugee agency condemns the forced expulsion from Gabon of eight recognized Rwandan refugees.
  • Six persons arrested in Kenya will appear before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on Thursday.
  • Climate change convention official expresses concern at slow progress in efforts to finalize new agreement.


The Security Council has expressed its grave concern about the critical situation in Angola caused by the continuing destabilizing actions of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).

Speaking to the press following consultations at UN Headquarters, Council President, Ambassador John Weston of United Kingdom said that the Council reaffirmed its belief that the Lusaka Protocol of November 1994 was the best and sole guarantee that Angola would finally enjoy lasting peace. Stressing that there could be no peace as long as UNITA failed to meet its obligations under the Lusaka Protocol, Ambassador Weston said that the international community would not tolerate the resumption of hostilities in Angola.

The Security Council also reaffirmed its readiness to consider and to impose appropriate and additional measures in accordance with its resolutions unless the Secretary-General informs it by 15 August of "irreversible and concrete steps" taken by UNITA to fulfil its obligations under the Lusaka Protocol and the Council resolutions.

As part of its consideration of the situation in Angola, the Security Council was briefed on Tuesday by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hedi Annabi who described the peace process in Angola as encountering what was probably the most critical moment since the Lusaka Protocol.


On the last day of his official visit to Sweden, UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan met with the Speaker of Parliament Birgitta Dahl with whom he discussed, among other things, the role of parliamentarians in the next millennium, and the UN's efforts to attain gender balance.

Accompanied by Sweden's Minister of Defence Bjorn von Sydow, the Secretary- General also visited the Swedish Armed Forces International Command. Later, the Secretary-General had lunch with King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia at their summer home before leaving for Helsinki.


United Nations food agencies on Tuesday said that Afghanistan would need 170,000 tons of emergency food aid in the coming months despite what is expected to be its largest harvest in 18 years of civil strife.

In a report on a joint crop and food supply assessment mission to the country, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), estimated that the cereal production this year will be 18 per cent higher than the 1996 harvest of more than 3 million metric tons.

"The eight northern provinces are forecast to product 1.3 million tons of cereals from the current harvest, but if the intensity of military activities increases or the conflict widens over the next few months, harvesting could be interrupted, and a reduction from this forecast is possible," the report said.

Even if the favourable forecast proves true, Afghanistan will need to import some 710 tons of cereal, mainly for an urban population swollen by the return of refugees. The UN agencies estimate that Afghanistan will need 170,000 tons of emergency food aid for the 1997-98 marketing year. WFP is expected to supply 140,000 and non-governmental organizations the remainder.


The United Nations refugee agency on Tuesday strongly condemned the expulsion of eight recognized refugees in a predawn operation from Gabon that returned a total of at least 168 Rwandans to their country.

"We strongly condemn the Gabonese government's action in forcing these eight back", UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata said. "Such conduct by Gabon, which is a signatory to international conventions on the treatment of refugees is a flagrant violation of the most basic human rights and humanitarian principles", she added.

Describing the circumstances of the operation, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the refugees were kept overnight inside two military aircraft before being transported from Francesville in Gabon to the Rwandan capital, Kigali. After being allowed to disembark, at least 45 of the refugees, mostly women and children had been separated from the others and taken for registration as normal returnees. Seven of the eight UNHCR recognized refugees were among this group. The eighth, a Burundi, was still missing, UNHCR said. The rest, mostly men, were handcuffed and taken to an undisclosed destination, according to the UN refugee agency.

The 168 Rwandans were among 1,300 refugees who entered Gabon last month after trekking for months across the forest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo into Congo-Brazzaville from where they later fled fierce fighting.


The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has announced that six persons arrested in Kenya are expected to appear before the Tribunal on Thursday. The six of the eight persons arrested on 18 July would appear before the President of the Tribunal, Judge Laity Kama, for a public hearing on their release or extension of their detention.

As suspects in the acts of genocide in Rwanda in 1994, their detention cannot exceed 30 days, according to a rule in the Tribunal's Rules of Procedure. At the end of that period, a judge may, at the request of the Prosecutor, decide to extend the detention for a further period of not more than 30 days.


A top official of a United Nations convention on climate change has voiced concern at the slow progress of efforts to reach new commitments by developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions after the year 2000.

Michael Zammit Cutajar, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said that everybody should be concerned about the sluggish pace of the seventh round of talks on this subject which concluded last week in Bonn. "There is only a short time remaining to build the necessary political will for producing an effective agreement in Kyoto", he said. Only one negotiating session remains before government minsters must finalize the agreement at the Kyoto Conference in Japan from 1 to 10 December.

During the latest round of talks in Bonn, negotiators worked to refine and streamline the draft text of a new agreement under the climate change Convention. The draft remained lengthy, however, and delegates did not focus on the central question of what the precise targets and timetables for emissions reductions should be.

Under the Convention, developed countries have agreed to take measures aimed at returning their greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. But in 1995, in Berlin, the international community recognized that stronger measures were needed to minimize the risk of climate change. The ad hoc group on the Berlin mandate was established to negotiate new developed-country commitments for the post-2000 period.

According to the Chairman of the ad-hoc group, Ambassador Raul Estrada- Oyuela of Argentina, during the just ended round of talks in Bonn negotiators had been able to fully articulate and clarify various options. He said that at the final negotiating session in October, "governments will be well positioned to choose from among them".


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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