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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-08-29

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

DAILY HIGHLIGHTS

Friday, 29 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 condemns incitement of violence against UN personnel in Brcko.
  • UN Secretary-General deeply regrets continuing loss of life through violence in Algeria.
  • Morocco and POLISARIO Front begin third round of talks in Lisbon.
  • UN refugee agency reports agreement to repatriate up to 40,000 Croats and Bosniacs.
  • Human Rights Committee concerned over Democratic People's Republic of Korea's intention to withdraw from Civil and Political Rights Covenant.
  • UNICEF continues demobilization of Rwandan child soldiers.
  • World Health Organization reports meningitis outbreak in eastern provinces of Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • International Symposium on Palestine adopts NGO plan opposing Israel's settlement policy.


United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has strongly condemned the incitement of violence in Brcko on Thursday against UN personnel.

In a statement issued by his spokesman, the Secretary-General said the incitement resulted in attacks on UN civilian and police personnel by hostile crowds of Serb civilians. He expressed particular concern at the assault on four UN staff who sustained minor injuries in the melee.

The Secretary-General also condemned the vandalization and looting of UN property. According to the spokesman, between 90 and 100 UN vehicles were damaged, 30 of them beyond repair.

The Secretary-General also expressed his appreciation to the Stabilization Force (SFOR) for assisting in the relocation of all UN personnel to secure locations in the area.


UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he deeply regretted the loss of life through violence in Algeria.

Through a spokesman, the Secretary-General said that violence had recently escalated to a horrendous level in Algeria.

He called for tolerance and dialogue to prevail over the forces of violence "so that the Algerian people can together address the great challenges that face them to build a just and democratic society grounded in respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms."

The Secretary-General's statement was issued in the wake of news reports that bomb blasts this week killed at least 12 people and wounded more than 100 in Algiers and El Biar.


Agreement has been reached on a cross-ethnic return of up to 40,000 Bosniac and Croat refugees by the onset of winter, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today. In a meeting called by the High Representative of the Peace Implementation Council which was attended by UNHCR, both Bosniac and Croat officials said they have identified some 10,000 damaged houses in central Bosnia which could, with some repairs, shelter some 40,000 returning refugees.

So far this year, approximately 70,000 refugees have returned to Bosnia from Germany, Switzerland, Croatia and other countries, according to UNHCR.


Representatives of Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO) today began their third round of talks on Western Sahara in Lisbon, according to a UN spokesman.

The talks, which are being facilitated by the UN Secretary- General's Special Envoy, James Baker III, are aimed at reviving the stalled implementation of a United Nations plan to resolve the dispute between Morocco and POLISARIO over the territory. Under the plan, the people of Western Sahara are to decide, through a referendum, between independence and incorporation into Morocco.

Algeria and Mauritania are participating as observers in the talks, which are expected to continue through Saturday.

The first two rounds of talks were held in late June and late July.


The Human Rights Committee, which monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, expressed deep concern today over the stated intention of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to withdraw from that treaty.

Speaking on behalf of the Committee, Chairwoman Christine Chanet said that although the Democratic People's Republic of Korea had become a party to the Covenant in 1981, it had ceased cooperating with the Committee since 1984, refusing all efforts by the Chair to resume a dialogue.

"The very regrettable attempt of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to breach its obligations under the Covenant constitutes a further step in a process aimed at denying its population the international protection of the rights guaranteed by the Covenant," said Ms. Chanet. This was unprecedented in international human rights law, and the first time since the entry- into-force of the Covenant in 1976 that a State had "tried to renounce its commitments undertaken of its own full accord," she added.

According to Ms. Chanet, the Committee will analyze the Government's initiative during its next session, which opens on 20 October in Geneva. In the meantime, she expressed the wish that the authorities of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea would "reconsider their unfortunate initiative."


A spokesman for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has reported that 2,900 children in Rwanda who had been part of the former armed forces have been demobilized in a UNICEF-funded project. Speaking to reporters in Geneva, the spokesman said 1,200 children had been reunited with their families, another 900 had been placed in boarding schools, and the remaining 800 were being housed in a temporary centre where they were receiving educational skills in preparation for a return to their families or to foster families.

Some 67 per cent of the estimated 22,600 unaccompanied children that were repatriated from former Zaire since November 1996 have been reunited with their families, according to UNICEF.


There has been an outbreak of meningitis in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to a spokesman for the World Health Organization (WHO). Some 1,200 cases of meningitis were reported over the past three months. The Kasenga district was among the most seriously affected.

Responding to the outbreak, WHO is working closely with Medicins Sans Frontieres to carry out a vaccination campaign in the affected areas. The neighbouring countries of Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda are being kept informed of the current situation, and WHO is sending some 150,000 doses of vaccines to them. Although information on deaths is "patchy," the spokesman confirmed that at least some three dozen people have died from the disease.


Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) meeting in Geneva yesterday called for the immediate lifting of the closures imposed by Israel. In a plan of action adopted at the end of a four-day UN International NGO meeting/European Symposium on the Question of Palestine, participants expressed serious concern over the stalemate in the peace negotiations, "resulting from Israeli policies and practices which have led the Middle East region into a new period of extreme tensions and possible conflict."

The NGOs committed themselves to undertake campaigns against Israeli settlements and pledged to work to make East Jerusalem the capital of the future Palestinian State.

The meeting was convened under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Committee Chairman Ibra DeguŠne Ka of Senegal said that during the present difficult period in the peace process, Palestinians needed more than ever to receive support in an organized and effective manner.


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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