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United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-11-26

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

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, November 26, 1999

EAST TIMOR: UN TO ISSUE REGULATION NO. 1 ON SATURDAY

Saturday, Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN Administrator in East Timor, will sign his first legal instrument, Regulation # 1, establishing the authority of the Transitional Administrator and the legal regime for the territory. This will be done in a public ceremony in the presence of independence leader Xanana Gusmao.

On the human rights front, the Indonesian Human Rights Commission has excavated a mass grave in West Timor, and today an Indonesian Police truck carrying 27 bodies came to the border town of Batugade and turned over three of those bodies to the International Committee of the Red Cross. It is thought that the three bodies are those of priests from the East Timor region of Suai.

The total number of people who have been repatriated to East Timor, or returned spontaneously, now stands at over 100,000.

The United Nations expert panel to investigate human rights violations in East Timor arrived on Thursday in Dili from Darwin. In Darwin, the five-member international commission of inquiry had met with the former head of UN mission in East Timor, Ian Martin, who was accompanied by one of the senior military observers present at the time of the events and the head of the civilian police. The commission of inquiry also met in Darwin with the Indonesian Human Rights Commission, which was represented by its chairman and secretary-general.

SECURITY COUNCIL TO DEBATE PREVENTION OF CONFLICTS

The Security Council has scheduled no meetings today.

At 3 p.m. Monday, the Council has scheduled an open meeting on its role in the prevention of conflicts. The Council is expected to issue a statement at the meeting. So far about 35 speakers have signed up.

Experts groups are still discussing resolutions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the UN Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH), whose mandate expires on Tuesday.

SECRETARY-GENERAL ENCOURAGES AFGHAN PEACE INITIATIVES

The Secretary-General, in a statement through his spokesman, noted the conclusion of the meeting of the organizing committee for an emergency Loya Jirga, or Grand Assembly, which was held in Rome from November 22 to 25 at the initiative of the former King of Afghanistan, Mohammad Zahir Shah. The United Nations and a number of interested countries sent their representatives to observe the meeting.

The Secretary-General hopes that this initiative and other initiatives taken by the people of Afghanistan will contribute to the return of peace to that country.

RWANDA TRIBUNAL ORDERS THAT RELEASE DECISION BE STAYED

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, presided by its new President Claude Jorda, ordered Thursday to hold the release of the accused Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza for a maximum of seven days, pending the filing of the Prosecutors request for a review of the decision.

The Tribunal, meanwhile, said that Ferdinand Nahimana, a former director of the Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines in Rwanda pleaded not guilty to three new counts charging him with genocide and crimes against humanity.

UNHCR REPORTS INFLUX OF ANGOLAN REFUGEES IN NAMIBIA

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) eported that fighting between government troops and UNITA in southern Angola sent some 2,400 Angolans, most of them women, children and elderly, fleeing to northern Namibias Kavango region over the past 15 days.

Extremely difficult living conditions exacerbated by the rainy season mean many of the refugees arrive in poor shape and require immediate medical, food and shelter assistance.

In cooperation with the Government of Namibia and local non-governmental organizations, UNHCR is on the ground to assist new arrivals. Food is immediately provided and transport is organized for the refugees to the Osire refugee camp more than 700 kilometers from the border.

The Osire camp is currently hosting 5,000 refugees, 95 percent of them Angolans. Angola has an estimated 1.7 million internally displaced people in addition to some 5, 000 refugees in Namibia; 43,000 in the DRC and 32,000 in Zambia.

UNHCR fears these numbers could increase dramatically with the recent upsurge in fighting.

UN MISSION IN KOSOVO AND FYROM TACKLE BORDER CONGESTION

The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) reports that earlier this week, Joly Dixon, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secreatry-General for Economic Development and Reconstruction, met with Nikola Gruevski, the Trade Minister of FYROM, to discuss measures to ease the congestion at the Blace border crossing, which we have been reporting to you about. The two sides agreed to a number of immediate measures to improve the situation.

The UNHCR Kosovo Shelter Update issued today said the total distribution of the emergency shelter kits now stands at over 70 percent.

Meanwhile, a looming shortage of accommodation for displaced Kosovars in Serbia has prompted UNHCR and other agencies to set up a task force to search for additional shelter space. The Task Force will identify potential accommodation sites throughout Serbia to help people who have no other place to stay.

According to government figures, there are more than 200,000 displaced people from Kosovo in Serbia most of them Serbs. They joined some 500,000 previous refugees from Croatia and Bosnia, bringing the total number of refugees and IDPs to an estimated 700,000 or more. This huge number has led to an acute shortage of shelter and other assistance. Most of the displaced have been staying with host families, but many of those families can no longer afford to care for them. With the onset of winter, it is becoming even more serious..

"UN CLEARS MOST DANGEROUS MUSEUM IN THE WORLD"

According to Peter Le Seour, who was in charge of the Afghan explosive ordnance disposal team that just completed a one-month operation that defused a "mine" museum in Zendajan, Herat Province, said the open-air museum, which was next to two schools, was set up in 1992 to make the public more informed about the dangers littering the surrounding countryside.

But according to Le Seour, since the museum contained 463 live explosives, it became "one big hazard in one place."

The museum housed 18 large aircraft bombs, some as heavy as 500 kilos, and 445 other pieces of ordnance, with the smallest being a five-kilo mortar shell. Underscoring the danger of the museum, Le Soeur showed reporters in Islamabad a sample -- a defused five-kilo rocket mortar about half the size of a bowling pin -- and stated that if it were to detonate in the center of the briefing room, everyone present would be killed.

He also noted that one accident involving even the smallest piece would have caused a chain reaction and detonated the entire museum, destroying everything within one kilometer of the building and injuring hundreds or perhaps thousands of people.

The UN Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan has so far cleared over one million explosives.

OIL STARTS FLOWING THROUGH PIPELINE FROM NORTHERN IRAQ

In response to a question on whether Iraq has resumed pumping oil, the Spokesman said that Wednesday, oil started flowing again through the pipeline from northern Iraq to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. "We are told by the oil experts that the tanks at Ceyhan were close to empty after the completion of the loading program for Phase VI," he said. "The capacity of these tanks is about 7.5 million barrels. And so apparently this pumping thats going on now is to refill these supply tanks."

"QUIZ OF THE WEEK"

Next Wednesday is World AIDS Day, and this week's quiz focuses on the latest information provided by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). The UNAIDS update on the epidemic, as well as complete press kits, are available in the Documents Counter.

Q. True or false: In sub-Saharan Africa, more women are infected with the HIV virus than men.

A. True. Fifty-five percent of HIV-infected adults in sub-Saharan Africa are women, according to the new UNAIDS statistics -- the first time that more African women are infected with the virus than men.

Q. What proportion of all reported HIV cases in Russia were recorded this year?

1. 25 per cent

2. 40 per cent

3. 50 per cent

A. Choice '3' is right; nearly half the reported cases of HIV infection in the Russian Federation were recorded in the first nine months of 1999 alone.

Q. India is estimated to have some four million HIV-infected persons at present. Is that number more or less than what AIDS agencies previously projected?

A. Less. Thanks to major efforts in India to track the epidemic, the current estimate of HIV infections has been revised downward from previous projections by 800,000 cases.

THE WEEK AHEAD at THE UNITED NATIONS

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 27

Pino Arlachi, the Executive Director of the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, will be keynote speaker at a symposium for the media, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy, on the subject of "Organized Crime in the Balkans." The symposium will take place in Venezia, Italy.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 28

The United Nations Office in Guinea-Bissau will organize the work of 82 international election observers, who will monitor the Presidential and legislative elections scheduled in Guinea-Bissau for Sunday.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 29

At 3 p.m., the Security Council will hold an open debate on the role of the Council in the prevention of conflicts. At that meeting, the Council will present a Presidential Statement on conflict prevention.

At 12:30 p.m. in Room 226 at UN headquarters, a senior UN official will provide a background briefing on the Secretary-General's speech at the Tuesday plenary session of the World Trade Organization Conference in Seattle.

Monday is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. At 10:30 a.m., the Secretary-General will deliver a statement. A separate message is available on an embargoed basis. In observance of this day, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People will hold a special meeting.

The third session of the Preparatory Commission for the International Criminal Court will open at UN Headquarters, and will last until December 17.

In Vienna, the General Conference of UNIDO holds its 21st session from Monday until Friday.

The 172 Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer will be meeting in Beijing from 29 November to 3 December (see http://www.unep.ch.ozone).

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 30

The mandate of the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH) is set to expire.

The Secretary-General will attend the third Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle. He is attending a WTO Conference for the first time, and is also featured as a speaker at the plenary. Copies of his speech to the WTO will be available in advance, with an embargo for 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

The Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Mr. Klaus Toepfer, will also be participating in the WTO Ministerial Conference and related events.

The signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United Nations and the Republic of Chad on Standby Arrangements will take place at UN Headquarters at noon. The Permanent Representative of Chad and Bernard Miyet, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, will sign the MOU. The event will take place in Miyet's Conference Room.

The General Assembly will debate the situation in the Middle East.

This is the final day scheduled for the work of the Second Committee.

In Vienna, the 42nd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs will reconvene beginning today until 3 December.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1

Today is World AIDS Day. To mark the Day, the Joint United Nations Programme for HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has issued the "AIDS epidemic update: December 1999," its most recent study on the prevalence and impact of AIDS. The report, which is available at UN Headquarters, says that a record number of AIDS-related deaths (2.6 million) occurred in 1999. UNAIDS and other groups will use the Day to draw attention to the spread of the epidemic. Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fr&eacute;chette will deliver opening remarks at the UN Headquarters event. The Secretary-General's message is available today. A press conference will be held in Room S-226 at 9:30 a.m.

Ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom replaces Ambassador Danilo Turk of Slovenia as President of the Security Council.

The General Assembly plenary is scheduled to take up the reports of the First Committee (which deals with disarmament).

From December 1 to 9, the Special Rapporteur on religious intolerance of the Commission on Human Rights, Abdelfattah Amor, will visit Turkey, at the invitation of the Government. He will visit Ankara, Istanbul and Turabdin, and will meet officials of relevant bodies, clergy members, representatives of religious minorities, non-governmental organizations and individuals.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 2

In Vienna, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs resumes its 42nd session for Thursday and Friday.

Also in Vienna, the second inter-sessional consultation in preparation for the ninth session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice will take place. Representatives of Permanent Missions will be informed of the results of the action taken by the Third Committee of the General Assembly on the resolutions adopted by the Economic and Social Council on the recommendation of the Commission on its eighth session. Representatives will also be briefed on the progress made in preparations for the 10th UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders and for the ninth session of the Commission.

In Rome, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will organize a symposium, beginning at 2 p.m. local time, on World AIDS Day. Topics for discussion will include the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Asia; rural youth and AIDS; and the impact of HIV/AIDS on food security and nutrition.

The Department of Public Information's NGO Section will hold a briefing in Conference Room 2 of UN Headquarters, at 9:30 a.m. on "Accessibility for All for the Millennium." Subjects discussed will include the needs of disabled persons.

This is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. This year, the date falls on the 50th anniversary of the General Assembly's adoption of the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of Others. The Secretary-General has urged civil society to use this day to press Governments to pass legislation, conduct consumer campaigns and raise public awareness on the topic of slavery and trafficking.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 3

Proximity talks are scheduled to begin between the Cypriot leaders, Glafcos Clerides and Rauf Denktash.

In Geneva, two working groups of the Commission on Human Rights are set to finish their current sessions: the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

The International Day of Disabled Persons. This is the day designated by the General Assembly to highlight the need to improve the situation of disabled persons and to provide


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