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United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-12-30

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

Thursday, December 30, 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.

    &nbsp;DEL PONTE SAYS NATO NOT UNDER INVESTIGATION

    In a statement released at The Hague today, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Carla del Ponte, said that "there is no formal inquiry into the actions of NATO during the conflict in Kosovo."

    The full text of the statement is available in the Spokesman's Office.

    CYPRUS TALKS TO RESUME IN GENEVA

    The Cyprus proximity talks, which were adjourned on 14 December 1999 in New York, will resume on 31 January 2000 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

    SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON KOSOVO, SOMALIA

    The Security Council began its work today at 10:15 a.m. with a private formal meeting on Kosovo. Other Member States besides the 15 Council members were allowed to attend, but only the Council members were allowed to speak, and the meeting, being private, was not televised.

    The meeting began with a briefing on developments in Kosovo during the past six months by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations H&eacute;di Annabi.

    Earlier this week, Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued his report to the Security Council on the first six months of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), in which he noted the Mission's progress, but also noted the "precarious" security situation of Kosovo Serbs, Roma and other minorities.

    In his briefing, Annabi also highlighted several positive developments, including the agreement to establish an UNMIK-Kosovo Joint Interim Administration Structure and the complete demilitarization of the Kosovo Liberation Army.

    "UNMIK has also made impressive gains in normalizing life in Kosovo," he said, noting the distribution of more than 57,000 emergency repair kits, the resumption of limited railway services, the restoration of power supplies and telecommunications and the opening of schools. Yet he underscored the challenge of developing an effective social system in Kosovo, where an estimated 50 per cent of the population is expected to be unemployed for the foreseeable future.

    After the formal meeting on Kosovo concludes, the Council will hold informal consultations, in which it is expected to hear a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahima Fall on the situation in Somalia. The briefing will update developments since the last Council consultations on Somalia on 9 November.

    The briefing will also focus on Djibouti's peace initiative on Somalia and on the current humanitarian situation there. The United Nations is concerned that an estimated one million people living in central and southern Somalia are at risk of food insecurity, and 600,000 people may require food aid.

    UN REPRESENTATIVE APOLOGIZES TO EAST TIMORESE

    Sergio Vieira de Mello, head of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor, today visited the coffee-growing district of Ermera, southwest of Dili, accompanied by independence leader Xanana Gusmao.

    De Mello used the occasion to apologize to the East Timorese for the United Nations' failure "to predict and prevent the wave of violence" that hit the country following the 30 August referendum.

    "For that I ask forgiveness from the people of East Timor," he said, addressing a crowd of 5,000. "I am not ashamed to ask you to forgive us; I would be ashamed not to acknowledge what happened. To deserve the generosity and hospitality of the Timorese people, we have to acknowledge our mistakes and shortcomings."

    Looking to the future, he said, "We are going to make East Timor an example of democracy, tolerance and justice."

    UN, OTHER AGENCIES PROVIDED RELIEF FOR 550,000 ANGOLANS IN 1999

    UN agencies and local and international non-governmental organizations provided relief food and assistance to some 550,000 vulnerable Angolans in 1999, Marjolaine Martin, Senior Humanitarian Affairs Officer of the UN Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Unit, said today.

    Speaking to IRIN news service, Martin said that the humanitarian needs of Angolans in conflict zones would continue to be great during the coming year.

    According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, some two million Angolans need relief aid, while another three million people are entirely inaccessible because of fighting.

    UCAH's Rapid Emergency Fund allocated nearly 290,000 dollars over the past year to support 50 projects maintained by various relief agencies. Among the highlights of humanitarian activity in Angola this year, 934,000 Angolan children were vaccinated against polio in April and May, while a total of 2.7 million children received other vaccinations during national vaccination days.

    OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

    The targeting of civilians in war has more than tripled the demand for food aid in Asia and Eastern Europe, said World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Catherine Bertini today. "More combatants are using starvation and forced, often violent, displacement as weapons of war, strategies that aggravate the large-scale food needs of civilians trapped in conflict," she said in a statement issued by WFP. She also noted the growing threat to humanitarian workers in conflict zones and added that this year alone, six WFP staff members died in the line of duty.

    At 10 a.m. at UN Headquarters today, Nuno Brito, Deputy Permanent Representative of Portugal, signed the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings. Portugal becomes the 53rd country to sign the Convention, which was adopted by the General Assembly on 15 December 1997; tomorrow is the last day in which it is open for signature at UN Headquarters. So far, eight countries have become state parties to the Convention; the treaty will enter into force 30 days after 22 countries have ratified, accepted or acceded to it. A list of the Convention's signatories is available on the UN Treaty web site (www.un.org/Depts/Treaty).

    &nbsp;

    THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

    MONDAY, JANUARY 3

    Today is a UN Holiday. In addition, because of the need for special arrangements in the event of "Y2K"-related computer failures, UN Headquarters will be closed, except for authorized staff, until Tuesday morning.

    TUESDAY, JANUARY 4

    The President of the Security Council for the month of January, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke of the United States, will hold bilateral consultations with the members of the Security Council. Among the members will be the five new members for the years 2000 and 2001: Bangladesh, Jamaica, Mali, Tunisia and Ukraine.

    The noon briefings at UN Headquarters by the Spokesman resume.

    WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 5

    The President of the Security Council will continue bilateral consultations with Council members in the morning. In the afternoon, the Council is scheduled to hold informal consultations on its programme of work.

    THURSDAY, JANUARY 6

    Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), will launch the final push for global polio eradication, by delivering a New Year's Message on polio in New Delhi. She will present the message to Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. WHO and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will also send the message to heads of state in the 30 remaining polio-endemic countries.

    FRIDAY, JANUARY 7

    UN Holiday. The UN Headquarters will be closed.


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