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United Nations Daily Highlights, 02-08-01

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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 OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, August 1, 2002

UN RELEASES REPORT ON JENIN, OTHER PALESTINIAN CITIES

The Secretary-Generals report on recent events in Jenin and other Palestinian cities was issued this morning. In commenting on its release as he arrived this morning, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that the report had been based on information in the public domain.

While some of the facts may be in dispute, the Secretary-General went on to say, I think it is clear that the Palestinian population have suffered and are suffering, the humanitarian consequences of which are very severe. He added that he hoped the both parties would draw the right lessons from this tragic episode and take steps to end the cycle of violence, which is killing innocent civilians on both sides.

The report was written at the request of the General Assembly when it passed a resolution on 7th of May after the disbandment of the team, which the Secretary-General had proposed to send to Jenin to establish the facts on the ground.

To collect the necessary information, the United Nations sent out requests to member states and observers for information concerning the events.

The Palestinian Authority did submit information, while the Government of Israel did not. In an effort to present as complete a picture as possible, the report makes use of publicly available information from the Israeli Government.

It also used other information available in the public domain and reports submitted by non-governmental organizations.

The report covers a period running from approximately the beginning of March to May 7, 2002. It sets out the context and background of the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. It also describes the security, humanitarian and human rights responsibilities of both parties. It briefly charts the rising violence since September 2000, which had by May 7, 2002 caused the deaths of 441 Israelis and 1,539 Palestinians.

In its examinations of the events in Jenin and other Palestinian cities, the report refers to allegations from the Palestinian Authority and human rights organizations that in the course of its operations the Israel Defense Forces engaged in unlawful killings, the use of human shields, disproportionate use of force, arbitrary arrests and torture, and denial of medical treatment and access.

The report also notes that armed Palestinian groups are alleged to have widely booby-trapped civilian homes acts which targeted IDF personnel, but also placed civilians in danger.

It quotes the Palestinian Authority as acknowledging that a number of Palestinian fighters resisted the Israeli military assault.

In conclusion, the Secretary-General writes that a full assessment of the events in Jenin could not have been made without the full cooperation of both parties and a visit to the area. Nevertheless, he expresses his confidence that the picture painted in this report is a fair representation of a complex reality.

ANNAN EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER ISRAELI DEPORTATIONS OF PALESTINIANS

The Secretary-General, in a statement issued through his Spokesman, continues to be deeply concerned by reports that the Government of Israel is proceeding with plans to deport from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip relatives of Palestinians known or alleged to be responsible for attacks against Israel.

He calls on the Government of Israel to adhere to its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949).

The Secretary-General urges the Government of Israel not to take actions that are inconsistent with international humanitarian law, such as forcible transfer of protected persons, regardless of motive, and collective punishment.

ANGOLA: ANNAN OUTLINES NEW TASKS FOR THE UNITED NATIONS

The Secretary-Generals report to the Security Council on Angola issued today summarizes key recent developments in Angola especially those since the death of Jonas Savimbi, leader of National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), and proposes adjustments to the mandate and structure of the UN presence in that country.

The report lists nine main tasks for the United Nations to support the consolidation of peace. The most urgent task is identified as the delivery of humanitarian aid to some 3 million Angolans in need.

Others include advice and support for mine clearance, liaison with the parties though the Joint Military Commission, assistance to the government in the quartering, demobilization and reintegration of UNITA solders and the promotion and protection of human rights.

To carry out the news tasks, the Secretary-General says an expanded mandate for the UN mission would be needed and recommends that the Security Council establish a new mission in Angola to succeed the UN Office in Angola.

If authorized by the Council, the new mission would be called the UN mission in Angola (UNMA) and would be headed by a Special Representative of the Secretary-General. The Secretary-General recommends that the mandate for the new mission should be for an initial period of six months from August 16 to February 16, 2003.

The Security Council is scheduled to discuss the report next Wednesday.

UNITED STATES ASSUMES PRESIDENCY OF SECURITY COUNCIL

Today is the first day of the U.S. presidency of the Security Council for the month of August.

No consultations or meetings of the Security Council are scheduled for today. U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte is holding bilateral consultations.

The Council program for the month ahead is posted on both the U.S. mission and Security Council websites.

GERMAN HUMANITARIAN WORKER RELEASED IN SUDAN

A German national working for the non-governmental organization World Vision -- a partner in the UNs Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) humanitarian operation -- was released today, according to the UN Security Coordinators Office. Preliminary reports indicate he is in good health.

An OLS aircraft was dispatched to collect the World Vision staff member, who went missing together with two other World Vision colleagues on Monday in the town of Waat in southern Sudan.

A fourth World Vision aid worker, a Kenyan national was killed Monday during a militia attack in that town.

The United Nations is very concerned about the welfare of the two aid workers still missing.

The United Nations is working with World Vision and the German government to seek their release.

UN ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME LAUNCHES BIO DIVERSITY ATLAS

The worlds first atlas of biodiversity was launched by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) today.

The atlas is the first map-based view of biological diversity and provides fact and figures on the importance of forests, wetlands, marine and coastal environments and other key ecosystems and highlights the impact of humankind on the natural world.

Experts estimate that the world is losing one major drug every two years at the current rate of extinction of plants and animals. In developing countries about 80% of people rely on medicines from natural sources and in the US about 56% of the top 150 prescribed medicines are linked with discoveries made in the wild.

Only about one per cent of the 250,000 tropical plants have been screened for potential drug applications.

UNEP's Executive Director, Klaus Toepfer, said wise use of natural resources is at the heart of sustainable development and one of the key issues for world leaders at the upcoming Summit in Johannesburg.

TOP UN HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICIAL CONCERNED AT PLANNED EXECUTION IN TEXAS

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson today expressed her deep concern at the executions that are scheduled later this month in Texas for two men T.J. Jones and Toronto Patterson who were each convicted of crimes committed when they were 17 years old.

Robinson acknowledged the seriousness of the crimes, including murder, for which they were convicted, but reiterated her particular opposition to the use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders.

She noted that the Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates that capital punishment shall nor be imposed for offences that were committed by persons who were below the age of 18 at the time, and she urged the relevant authorities to grant both men relief from the death penalty.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The Food and Agriculture Organization said today that a campaign to control locusts in Northern Afghanistan has succeeded in keeping crop damage to a minimum, at about seven per cent. Afghan plant protection staff, with technical assistance from FAO, is currently surveying the areas where the locusts are laying their egg pods and plans will be made for a control campaign for next year to prevent another major outbreak.

The 2001 UN Disarmament Yearbook has been released. The Yearbook, among other things, underscores the threat of the possible use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorist groups in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. It also outlines that the military expenditure has continued to rise both globally and in most of the regions. The book estimates the total world military expenditure for 2001 at $839 billion, which represents 2.6% of world GDP, corresponding to an average of $137 per capita.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378 New York, NY 10017 Tel. 212-963-7162 - press/media only Fax. 212-963-7055

All other inquiries to be addressed to (212) 963-4475 or by e-mail to: inquiries@un.org


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