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United Nations Daily Highlights, 01-05-10

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

HIGHLIGHTS

FROM THE NOON BRIEFING

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, May 10, 2001

ANNAN TO MEET WITH U.S., NIGERIAN PRESIDENTS ON AIDS

Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his wife, Nane Annan, are leaving New York this evening for Washington, D.C., where the Secretary-General and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo will meet Friday morning at the White House with U.S. President George W. Bush to discuss AIDS and the global fund proposed by the Secretary-General.

The meeting comes at the invitation of the U.S. president, and there will be a press availability after the meeting.

The meeting Friday follows the discussions the Secretary-General had Wednesday with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, who said that AIDS was an issue of major concern to the U.S. President. The meeting, held at Thompsons office in Washington, focused on AIDS and the Secretary-General's call to action, in particular his proposal for a global fund to raise an additional $7 billion to $10 billion per year to fight the AIDS epidemic worldwide. The two Secretaries, who chair a U.S. task force on AIDS, said that they plan to work closely with the international community on this issue.

The Secretary-General will leave Washington, D.C. for New York, immediately after his White House meeting. Upon arrival in New York, the Secretary-General will have his monthly luncheon with the Security Council.

Asked whether the Secretary-General brought up the matter of the U.S. reaction to the loss of its seat on the UN Human Rights Commission with Powell and Thompson, the Spokesman said the subject had not come up in his Wednesday meeting on AIDS.

Asked how the U.S. reaction, including a possible freeze on releasing some $244 million in U.S. arrears to the United Nations, would affect U.S. support for the AIDS effort, the Spokesman noted a strong domestic constituency in the United States that supports actions to combat AIDS. He said that President Bush strongly supports the fight against AIDS, which he added would not be affected by last week's vote in the Economic and Social Council.

Asked how the global fund for AIDS could help countries that lack sufficient infrastructure, the Spokesman noted that the fund is not expected to hold the entire $7 billion to $10 billion in additional funding that is required, some of which is to be mobilized by Governments. One of the issues the funding can deal with is the need for infrastructure to combat AIDS.

NEW REPORT SAYS HIV/AIDS DEVASTATING AFRICAN LABOR FORCE

The Food and Agriculture Organization ( FAO) announced a new report, which warns that HIV/AIDS deaths in Africa will reduce the labor force in some African countries by up to 26 percent by 2020.

The report, prepared for the 27th Session of the Committee on World Food Security, estimates that 16 million agricultural workers are likely to die in the 27 worst affected African countries in that period. The report recommends assistance from donor countries in reducing the effect of HIV/AIDS on food security and a review of laws and practices to ensure the livelihood of widows and orphans.

MOROCCAN TROOPS ARRIVE IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO

A 118-strong military contingent from Morocco arrived earlier today in Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The deployment today brings to more than 1,300 the total number of UN troops on the ground as part of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC). They are deployed in Kalemie, Kananga, Mbandaka and Kisangani, in addition to Goma.

There are also close to 500 military observers.

UN FORCE COMMANDER VISITS RUF STRONGHOLD IN SIERRA LEONE

The Force Commander for the UN Mission in Sierra Leone, Lt. Gen. Daniel Opande, conducted a patrol Wednesday to several northern towns, including the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) stronghold of Kambia, near the border with Guinea.

Hundreds of people gathered at the local town hall of Kambia to welcome him. Opande held discussions with local RUF representatives, who appealed to the Force Commander to deploy peacekeepers without further delay.

Senior UN officials discussed the outcome of the Abuja cease-fire review meeting. The review included an agreement for the RUF to withdraw from Kambia district and to permit deployment of the Sierra Leone army.

UNRWA CHIEF ASKS FOR MORE DONOR SUPPORT FROM ARAB STATES

At the conclusion of the informal meetings with donors in Amman, Jordan, Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General of the UN Works and Relief Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East ( UNRWA) reiterated his call for his agency to widen its donor base, especially in the Arab countries.

Currently, Arab countries contribute 2 percent of UNRWA's budget, but the Commissioner-General has appealed to them to raise that level to 7.8 percent.

During the meeting, the representative of Canada announced that his country was increasing its contribution to UNRWA by $10 million.

UNHCR REPORTS LESS MOVEMENT FROM FYROM TO KOSOVO

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees ( UNHCR) reports that there have been no major crossings of refugees from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia into Kosovo for the past two days. On Wednesday, a little more than 300 people were reported to cross into Kosovo from FYROM, where shelling had continued throughout the day.

Since the latest round of fighting started in FYROM on May 3, more than 8,000 people have left the country, with the majority of people leaving from the rural areas around Kumanovo. Many left as a precautionary measure.

Eric Morris, UNHCR's Special Envoy in the region, said the agency remains extremely concerned about the well-being of the civilian population and about reports on the difficulties they have faced coming across the border. UNHCR encourages all parties to allow freedom of movement for all those who are fleeing across the border crossings.

SPOKESMAN CORRECTS ARTICLE ON UN CHIEF IN VIENNA

The Spokesman responded to inaccuracies in a Financial Times article that came out on Wednesday concerning Pino Arlacchi, the head of the UN Office in Vienna.

The proposal for an Assistant Secretary-General post in Vienna, mentioned in the article, was already in the budget and was in no way linked to the recent exercise by the Office of Internal Oversight Services. The post was recommended by the Secretary-General because of the breadth and diversity of the programs in Vienna. A similar recommendation was made for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for the same reason.

If approved, the new Assistant Secretary-General would report through Arlacchi, and not directly to the Secretary-General as the Financial Times reported.

There were a number of other inaccuracies, including the identification of Arlacchi in the article as a member of the Italian Communist Party. Arlacchi said that he was never a member of that party.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

In response to a question on the possibility of a U.S. freeze on repaying $244 million in U.S. arrears to the United Nations, the Spokesman noted that the amount was the third tranche of a plan to repay U.S. arrears, and that the second tranche of that plan, for some $582 million, was still expected to be released. The $582 million, he said, would be used to repay troop contributors to UN peacekeeping operations.

The UN Development Programme ( UNDP) announced today that the Government of the Indian State of Gujarat and the UN system are organizing an international conference on "Sustainable Recovery and Vulnerability Reduction" this Saturday. The conference will focus attention on the need for long-term reconstruction and rehabilitation following the devastating earthquake in Gujarat last January. UNDP plans to help put in place an improved system for dealing with future disasters at the national and regional levels in India.

  • The guest at today's briefing was Dennis McNamara, UN Special Coordinator on Internal Displacement, who discussed the situation of internally displaced persons in Afghanistan.

    Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General United Nations, S-378 New York, NY 10017 Tel. 212-963-7162 Fax. 212-963-7055


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