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United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-12-28

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

Tuesday, December 28, 1999

  • The UN daily noon briefings will be suspended between Christmas and New Year's. Highlights of UN news from around the world will be posted daily.

    ANNAN WELCOMES AGREEMENT BETWEEN INDONESIA AND PORTUGAL

    Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed the restoration of relations between Indonesia and Portugal, which the two nations announced at United Nations Headquarters this morning, the Spokesman said in a statement today.

    "He looks forward to a new era in which they will continue to work together productively, as they did this year to solve the issue of East Timor," the Spokesman said.

    UN POLICE INVESTIGATE SUSPECTED MASS GRAVE IN EAST TIMOR

    United Nations police in East Timor have investigated a 300- by 500-metre site at the village of Passabe, where local people say up to 54 bodies could be buried in a mass grave.

    Although the police found human remains, they await the arrival in the mission of forensic experts for a detailed examination to be carried out. That arrival is not expected to happen for several weeks.

    UN police also announced today their intention to establish in mid-January a Rapid Reaction Unit of approximately 240 officers and a Border Control Unit of about 50 officers. These officers would be armed. Normally, UN Civilian Police in East Timor patrol unarmed.

    SECRETARY-GENERAL NOTES PROGESS OF KOSOVO MISSION

    Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a report to the Security Council issued today, says that the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has made "good progress" in implementing its mandate over the past six months, and calls the demilitarization of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) "an important step forward."

    The Secretary-General's report, however, raises concern about the security situation for Kosovo Serbs, Roma and other minority groups. Despite the efforts of the Kosovo Force (KFOR) and UNMIK, he says, "the level and nature of the violence in Kosovo, especially against vulnerable minorities, remains unacceptable."

    Annan says that more resources are needed, emphasizing the need for the rapid deployment of international police officers and support for the Kosovo Police Service. He also recommends the strengthening of Kosovo's judiciary and penal system and warns, "A strong response is needed in order to address the problem of unofficial law-enforcement actors that have been reported to operate within the area."

    According to the report, at least 810,000 refugees have returned to their homes in Kosovo, and efforts have increased to provide emergency housing rehabilitation for returnees. Most of the occupants of the 50,000 houses deemed beyond repair in Kosovo are already living with host families for the winter season, the Secretary-General adds.

    The Security Council is expected to consider the report in its consultations tomorrow.

    In Pristina, the Interim Administrative Council met today for its third meeting, in which it discussed the draft regulation on establishing the Joint Interim Administrative Structure. The Council also unanimously condemned the "violent attack" committed in Vitina yesterday.

    IRAQ PROGRAMME PROVIDES UPDATE ON OIL SALES

    The Office of the Iraq Programme announced that, in the week which ended on 24 December, Iraq exported a total of 12.6 million barrels of crude oil, for an estimated revenue of 293 million dollars. Since oil exports began under Phase VII of the "oil-for-food" programme, Iraq has exported 14.6 million barrels of oil for an estimated revenue of 340 million dollars.

    In the same period, the Security Council Sanctions Committee has approved 27 contracts for the sale of Iraqi oil, with a total volume of 122.1 million barrels.

    At present, the Sanctions Committee has placed holds on 425 contracts for the purchase of humanitarian supplies, worth 1.053 billion dollars.

    Among the supplies which arrived in Iraq over the past week were 25,000 tonnes of rice, more than 7,100 tonnes of cooking oil and more than 2,900 tonnes of powdered infant formula milk.

    TRIBUNAL SCHEDULES FIRST APPEARANCES FOR WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS

    The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia announced today that the initial appearance of Stanislav Galic, a Bosnian Serb accused of war crimes, was scheduled to take place at the Tribunal in The Hague tomorrow, at 11 a.m. local time.

    Galic, a former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army's Romanija Corps, was charged by the Tribunal with four counts of crimes against humanity and three counts of violations of the laws and customs of war. He was detained by members of the Stabilization Force (SFOR) on 20 December.

    Later on Wednesday, at 3 p.m., Zoran Vukovic, a Bosnian Serb charged with four counts of violations of the laws or customs of war and four counts of crimes against humanity, will also appear for the first time before the Tribunal. Vukovic, accused of being a paramilitary leader in the Bosnian town of Foca, was arrested by SFOR troops last Thursday.

    OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

    The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced today that it will broadcast highlights of its TeleFood '99 concert to millions of people on the Internet, exclusively via Apple's QuickTime TV (QTV) network, beginning Thursday, 30 December. The concert, held earlier this month in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, was part of FAO's Food for All campaign to raise money and awareness for in the fight against world hunger. Beginning on Thursday, viewers can go to the FAO homepage (www.fao.org) or the QuickTime Showcase site (www.apple.com/quicktime/showcase) to view the webcast.

    This evening, the east side of the UN Headquarters, which faces the East River, will be lit up to read "UN 2000," in honour of the millennium and of next year's Millennium Assembly. The lighting will begin at approximately 5:30 p.m.; tomorrow evening, the west side of the Headquarters, which faces First Avenue, will once again be lit in the same fashion.

    The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) issued a statement from its Executive Director, Klaus Toepfer, to mark the occasion of the International Day for Biological Diversity tomorrow. "We can no longer deny the rights of other species and cultures, because this denial is a threat to biodiversity," Toepfer said. "We must realize that it is intellectual and physical labour of the indigenous communities that has nurtured biodiversity and allowed it to flourish."

    Libya completed its payment of UN dues for 1999 today, by paying more than 1.3 million dollars. In completing its 1999 payments, Libya has become the 124th Member State to pay its dues in full for this year. In recent years, there has been a steady increase in the number of Member States that have paid their dues in full by the end of the year. By the end of last year, a record 117 Member States paid their dues in full. That record has now been broken this year. (Dues payments in full by Member States by the end of each year for the five previous years are as follows: in 1993 -- 74; in 1994 -- 75; in 1995 -- 94; in 1996 -- 98; in 1997 -- 100.)

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