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United Nations Daily Highlights, 02-08-06

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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

Tuesday, August 6, 2002

GENERAL ASSEMBLY CALLS FOR END TO MIDDLE EAST VIOLENCE

On Monday night, the General Assembly approved a resolution calling for the immediate cessation of military incursions and all acts of violence, terror, provocation, incitement and destruction in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. It also called for Israel to withdraw immediately from Palestinian population centers and return to positions held prior to September 2000.

The Assembly further called for urgently needed assistance to help alleviate the current dire humanitarian situation facing the Palestinian people and to assist in rebuilding and revitalizing the Palestinian economy.

That resolution received 114 votes in favor, four against and 11 abstentions, and followed a day-long discussion, as part of the resumed Tenth Emergency Special Session on the Middle East, of the Secretary-Generals recent report on the events that took place in Jenin and other Palestinian cities this spring.

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES PROGRAM OF WORK, DR-CONGO

The Security Council this morning held its first consultations for the month of August, under the Presidency of US Ambassador John Negroponte.

Council members today discussed the program of work for the month ahead, and they also received a briefing from Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hédi Annabi on recent developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Council intends to return to that subject in a meeting on Thursday, which South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is expected to attend. Representatives of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, who recently signed an agreement in Pretoria on halting the fighting in the DRC, are also expected to attend that meeting.

On Wednesday, the Council will hold a private meeting to talk to the deputy foreign minister of Angola, before it will hold consultations, also on Angola.

SECRETARY-GENERAL EXPECTS TO RESPOND TO IRAQI LETTER

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been considering a letter that he would send in response to the letter from Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri, which invited chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix to Iraq.

It is expected that the Secretary-General would share the text of that letter with members of the Security Council. The letter could go out later today or tomorrow.

Asked why the letter had not yet gone out, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General intends to confer with Blix, who is in Sweden on holiday, on the text of the letter. The letter would not go out until he has conferred with Blix, although the hope was that it could go out today.

Asked about an interview Blix had with the Al-Hayat daily that appeared on Sunday, the Spokesman said that Blixs office had clarified that he gave that interview last Thursday, prior to the receipt of the Iraqi letter. Had he been aware of the letter, he may not have given the responses that were printed on Sunday, Eckhard noted.

IRAQ PROGRAM FACES REDUCED OIL EXPORTS, DIRECTOR WARNS

Benon Sevan, the Executive Director of the Iraq Programme, has written to the Acting Chairman of the Security Councils 661 sanctions committee to express grave concern at the reduced levels of Iraqi oil exports, and the corresponding level of low revenues under the oil-for-food program.

In the letter, dated August 1, he notes that, two months into Phase XII of the program, Iraq had exported only 63.2 million barrels of oil, an amount that is lower than previous recorded levels of monthly exports under the oil-for-food program. He adds that, even by the most conservative estimates, some $1.5 billion in revenue had been lost, owing to a reduction in the level of Iraqi oil exports.

Sevan warns that the shortfall could result in very serious consequences for the humanitarian situation in Iraq and appeals to the members of the 661 Committee and the Government of Iraq to take all necessary measures to resolve any difficulties, including, in particular, the outstanding question of the pricing mechanism for Iraqi crude oil exports. The cooperation of all concerned is essential, he added.

UN ENVOY NOTES POSITIVE MOVEMENT IN MYANMAR

Razali Ismail, the Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for Myanmar, left Yangon today after completing his five-day mission aimed at facilitating the national reconciliation process in Myanmar. It was his eighth mission and the first since the remaining restrictions on Daw Aung San Suu Kyis movement were lifted on May 6.

During his stay in Myanmar, Razali met separately with leaders of both the Government and the National League for Democracy, including Lt-Gen. Khin Nyunt, Secretary-1 of the State Peace and Development Council, and the Leagues General Secretary, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. He also met with the leaders of several ethnic nationality parties.

Razali believes that the national reconciliation process will continue to evolve positively along a number of fronts; and in a way that corresponds with the spirit of the home grown process that has developed thus far.

He was informed by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi that as a result of her recent travels in the country, she was willing to cooperate with the Government in ways that directly benefit all the peoples of Myanmar and would contribute to the evolution of a democratic state.

Razali hopes that the international community will nurture and encourage this process and respond appropriately.

UNHCR OBSERVES DROP IN NUMBER OF AFGHAN RETURNEES

In an update on the Afghan refugees, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says it has reduced the number of registration centers in Pakistan and cut back on their operating hours due to a drop of the number of Afghan refugees returning home from Pakistan.

The hot temperature, anxiety about security, and the end of the planting season are among the reasons attributed to the decline in recent weeks. Last week alone, there was a drop of 21 percent in the number of returning refugees compared to the previous week.

To date, more than 1.4 million people have returned home under the Afghan Authority- UNHCR program. UNHCR still faces a $43 million shortfall in its $271 million budget for the Afghanistan crisis.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today is sending two relief teams into northern Uganda, following Monday's devastating attack by the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army on the Acholi-Pii refugee camp. The raid on the camp, which housed 24,000 Sudanese refugees, left at least 14 people dead and dispersed the camp's entire population.

Available today is the Secretary-Generals report on the implementation of the outcome of the Global Conference on Small Island Developing States. In it, he notes that activities on the integrated management of the Caribbean Sea have greatly increased but says there is room for improvement in the provision of information and wider use of the Small Island Developing States Network.

The Food and Agriculture Organization today launched an appeal for $1.3 million to assist about a half million cattle, goat and camel farmers in the Afar region of Ethiopia. The new funds will supply drugs, animal feed and water to keep the animals alive during the crisis. The region has been affected by severe drought and the situation has been aggravated by fighting over grazing land and water.

Today, the Maldives paid its 2002 regular budget contribution in full, becoming the 90th Member State to do so, with a contribution of more than $11,000.

In response to questions about the repair work being done in the General Assembly Hall, the Spokesman noted that, according to the Office of Central Support Services, the ceiling tiles and the lights in the Hall are being replaced and asbestos has been removed. Work is progressing according to plan and is expected to be completed by the end of August.

The Spokesman congratulated the UN staff members in the General Service category who recently passed the highly competitive examination to win Professional posts, including Rolando Gomez, a former member of the Spokesmans Office who also became a father this March.

  • The guest at todays briefing was Olara Otunnu, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, who discussed his recent visit to Afghanistan.

    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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