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United Nations Daily Highlights, 00-04-25

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 MARIE OKABE

ASSOCIATE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, April 25, 2000

ANNAN TO ADDRESS WORLD EDUCATION FORUM WEDNESDAY

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, after stopovers in London and Paris today, is on his way to Dakar, Senegal, where he is expected to arrive in the evening.

On Wednesday morning, he will make the opening address at the World Education Forum, which will last from Wednesday through Friday in Dakar.

In the speech, the Secretary-General emphasizes that, of the 110 million children who should be in school -- but are not -- two-thirds are girls. Also, he notes, the majority of the 880 million adults worldwide who are illiterate are women. He says that societies must recognize that "educating girls is not an option; it is a necessity."

The Convenors of the World Education Forum also issued a joint statement emphasizing that the right to education is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and supporting the goal of "Education for All."

Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS, said, in a press release issued today, that AIDS is "one of the biggest crises and the biggest threats to the global education agenda that we have known."

SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS BRIEFINGS ON DR OF CONGO

The Security Council, in closed consultations this morning, discussed the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in which they considered the report of the Secretary-General on the UN Mission there, which was issued last week.

Council members were briefed by Kamel Morjane, the Special Representative for the DRC, who described the robustness of the cease-fire as encouraging and explained that the next stage is to achieve a physical separation of forces throughout the territory of the DRC. He also noted a marked change in the cooperation shown to the UN Mission by the DRC Government.

Morjane stressed that the international community is currently bearing the great responsibility for ensuring that the cease-fire holds. This will be achieved only by deploying military observers on the ground as soon as possible, he said. He cited the serious needs for specialized units to remain and appealed to troop contributing countries to respond to those needs to allow for speedy deployment.

In the afternoon, the Council will hold a closed meeting in its chamber, to hear a briefing by the Neutral Facilitator of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, former President Ketumile Masire of Botswana.

On Wednesday, the Council is scheduled to hear a briefing by the High-Level Coordinator for Iraq, Yuli Vorontsov, on the Secretary-General's recent report on the return of Kuwaiti and third-party nationals.

In response to a question, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General had replied to a request in the last Security Council resolution on the Democratic Republic of the Congo that asked for steps to protect that country's natural resources from exploitation. The Secretary-General had suggested the creation of a panel of experts, which he expects the Council to consider.

Asked about the complaints of atrocities against the Banyamulenge in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General has repeatedly noted those complaints. The United Nations is in the process of deploying military observers throughout the country, and has more than 100 observers on the ground now, Okabe said. Also, she said, there is a UN humanitarian presence in the eastern DRC. Speedy deployment of observers is a major priority, she added.

UNHCR CONVOY ARRIVES IN CHECHNYA

A 17-truck relief convoy of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) arrived in Chechnya at around 3:30 p.m. local time and began unloading. It was the second such delivery since early March.

The convoy of trucks provided by Russia's Ministry for Emergencies (Emercom) left UNHCR's base of operations in Stavropol, southern Russia, on Monday. The convoy spent the night in Mozdok, North Ossetia, and arrived in Grozny, Chechnya, today.

Emercom and the United Nations are discussing where the 17 truckloads of food and non-food items will be distributed, beginning Wednesday.

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS DISCUSSING CHECHNYA RESOLUTION

The Commission on Human Rights in Geneva voted in favor of a resolution on Chechnya, which calls for an independent national commission of inquiry to investigate human rights violations and breaches of international law. A series of resolutions were acted on this morning, including on democracy and on indigenous peoples.

The Commission's Chairman read a statement on East Timor welcoming the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the UN Transitional Administration and the Indonesian Government and taking note of the work done by the two Commissions of Inquiry, at the Indonesian and international levels. It also urges for a rapid solution of the East Timorese refugee problem in East Timor.

HORN OF AFRICA UN MISSION ISSUES SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

The mission led by the UN Special Envoy for the Drought in the Horn of Africa, Catherine Bertini -- who is also the Executive Director of the World Food Programme -- issued a summary of the findings and recommendations of its trip to Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Kenya, which lasted from April 11-19.

Bertini says in her findings that the priority areas for relief assistance are water, basic medicines, food, seeds and livestock. It is also necessary, the mission reports, to enhance security, transport and infrastructure in the region.

The report says that even now, the negative effects of the drought are containable, and that every effort must be made to undertake measures to prevent widespread loss of life. The lives of as many as 16 million people are at risk.

The mission recommends a regional UN appeal for assistance to be launched next month, and urges cross-border relief efforts and updated assessments of relief needs in the Greater Horn of Africa.

In comments he made upon meeting Bertini during his stopover today in Paris, the Secretary-General said that, "if the donor community and all of us pull our efforts and if those who have the capacity to give, give generously and early, we might be able to avert a disaster." He also noted possible distribution, transport and security problems in any future relief effort.

RUF FORCES CLOSING OF DISARMAMENT CAMP IN SIERRA LEONE

The UN Mission in Sierra Leone reported today that on Saturday, heavily armed fighters of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) surrounded the recently opened disarmament reception center in Magburaka in northern Sierra Leone, and forced the peacekeepers present to take the camp down.

So far, no RUF combatants have disarmed in Makeni and Magburaka, which are RUF strongholds, although the Civil Defense Forces (CDF) have begun disarming in their areas of Bo and Moyamba. These four centers were opened simultaneously on April 17.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Asked about the invitation to the Security Council members to visit Kosovo by the Special Representative there, Bernard Kouchner, the Spokesman said the missions to Kosovo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were undertaken to help the Council understand better the complex nature of the United Nations' work there.

The latest "Status of Contributions to the Regular, Peacekeeping and International Tribunal Budgets," indicates that by the end of March, Member States owed $842 million for the regular budget, $1.9 billion for the peacekeeping budget and $93 million for the International Tribunals. This makes a grand total of approximately $2.83 billion dollars owed by Member States to the United Nations.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) issued a press release in New York and Abuja, Nigeria, which appeals to African leaders to take the steps to control malaria throughout the continent. Carol Bellamy, the Executive Director of UNICEF, said today in Abuja that the means are available to prevent and cure malaria, but cannot be deployed if the political will is lacking. Bellamy is attending the first world summit on malaria, hosted by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.

  • The guest at today's briefing was Ambassador Abdallah Baali of Algeria, President of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference.
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