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United Nations Daily Highlights, 02-08-12

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, August 12 2002

ANNANS NEW HUMANITARIAN ENVOY BEGINS MISSION

Catherine Bertini, the Secretary-Generals Personal Humanitarian Envoy, landed in Tel Aviv earlier today.

Soon after her arrival, she met with Israels Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres.

Later this evening, she will meet with staff of the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Terje Roed Larsen.

During this eight-day visit, Bertini will assess the nature and the scale of the humanitarian crisis, and review humanitarian needs in the light of recent developments.

Bertini is expected to meet with other senior Israeli officials, as well as senior officials from the Palestinian Authority.

SECURITY COUNCIL TO REVIEW WORK OF UN MISSION IN EAST TIMOR

There are no scheduled meetings of the Security Council today.

On Tuesday, Security Council members will hold a closed meeting to review progress to date in the UN Mission in East Timor. Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hédi Annabi will provide the briefing during that meeting.

On Tuesday afternoon, there will be another closed meeting of the Security Council with troop contributing countries to the UN Mission in Ethiopia/Eritrea.

UN MISSION: DEATH TOLL IN DR CONGO ETHNIC CLASHES RISES

The UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo reported today that UN military observers had discovered 15 more bodies at the residence of the Governor of Bunia, in the northeast of the country. This brings the death toll to 90 people following last weeks fierce clashes between two factions of the Congolese Rally for Democracy Kisangani/Liberation Movement (RCD-K/ML).

Bunia has on a number of occasions been the scene of fierce fighting between armed groups from the Hema and Lendu ethnic groups. During last weeks fighting, it appears that the RCD-K/ML split along ethnic lines between the two groups.

Over the weekend, the UNs Deputy Force Commander in the DRC, Gen. Roberto Martinelli, visited the town and reported that Ugandan Army troops were now in control of Bunia and had expelled the militias in an effort to prevent further fighting.

Meanwhile, in Uganda, the head of the UN Mission, Amos Namanga Ngongi, has been meeting with senior officials. He was to discuss with them the recently DRC peace accord signed in Pretoria at the end of July. Ngongi is also expected to raise the situation in Bunia with the Ugandan authorities and remind them of their obligations to protect the civilian population in the town.

Last Friday night, a communiqué was issued jointly by the United Nations and South Africa on the discussions taking place in New York on the practical modalities of the UNs involvement in the Pretoria Peace Agreement.

SECOND ROUND OF SUDAN PEACE TALKS OPEN IN NAIROBI

This afternoon in Machakos, Kenya, the second round of peace talks between the Sudanese Government and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement began, under the auspices of the Sudan Peace Committee of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

The Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on Africa, Mohamed Sahnoun, is in Kenya for the talks, where he is working in cooperation with the IGAD mediators and with the so-called troika of nations (the US, the UK and Norway) who are involved in the peace process.

This round of talks is expected to last about five weeks, and to focus on a cease-fire and other outstanding questions, including the relations between state and religion in Sudan.

Last month, the Secretary-General expressed the hope that the parties to the peace talks will be able to build on their momentum so that they can reach a definitive peace agreement in the round that opened today, in order to put an end to the painful and debilitating conflict which has plagued the Sudan for nearly 50 years.

UNHCR ALARMED AT INCREASE IN AFGHAN RETURNS FROM IRAN

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says that it is alarmed at the sudden increase in the number of refugee returns from Iran, which it believes it is a result of induced pressure by the Iranian authorities.

During the first week of August, UNHCR has seen nearly 10,000 refugees return, which was an increase from an average of 6,500 weekly returns in July. Many families who returned from Iran last week told UNHCR staff that they decided to return because of pressure on them to leave. Some say their children were rejected from registering for the new school year in Iran.

UNHCR warns that premature, forced or induced returns at this time will not be sustainable and may lead to a reversal of movement in the future.

The total number of assisted returns from Iran since April, as of August 10, is 124,500.

UN CLARIFIES ROLE OF ITS OBSERVERS IN KASHMIR

A recent article in the local press in Kashmir carried a number of groundless and potentially inflammatory accusations about the role of the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), and the Spokesman, in that context, recalled the functions of UNMOGIP and the basis for its activities.

According to the Security Council mandate given in resolution 307 of 1971, UNMOGIP observes and reports on ceasefire violations along and across the Line of Control and the working boundary between Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir, as well as reporting developments that could lead to ceasefire violations. The observers report only to UNMOGIP Headquarters, which forwards reports to Headquarters in New York. They do not provide information to any third party.

The 45 military observers in UNMOGIP, drawn from nine countries, serve unarmed, and the host authorities have full responsibility for ensuring their safety. The Spokesman added, "We trust that the authorities will ensure that the difficulty and risks faced by these dedicated officers are not exacerbated by such irresponsible and misinformed reports."

FAO STAFF MEMBER RELEASED UNHARMED IN MOGADISHU

Over the weekend, the Somalia staff member of the Food and Agriculture Organization who had been abducted in Mogadishu last Monday Abdulkadir Mohamed Abikar was released in Mogadishu without any preconditions. He has since been medically examined and is reported to be in good health.

The UN Office in Nairobi issued a statement welcoming his release and repeating the UNs strong condemnation against abductions.

The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Maxwell Gaylard, today expressed his deep concern about the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in many parts of the country particularly Baidoa, Puntland and Mogadishu because of violence and insecurity. The fighting, he warned, disrupts the delivery of humanitarian aid to Somalis who are already facing acute poverty and malnutrition.

UN MISSION IN KOSOVO DETAINS KOSOVO ALBANIAN ON MURDER CHARGES

On Sunday, the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) announced that Rustem Mustafa, a Kosovo Albanian suspected of murder, torture and illegal detention, had been arrested by UN police and will face a judicial investigation concerning the torture and murder of at least five illegally detained persons.

The prosecutor in that case has requested that the suspect be detained pending the conclusion of the judicial investigation, which could last several months.

ANNAN CALLS YOUNG PEOPLE MAIN STAKEHOLDERS OF PLANET'S FUTURE

In his message today marking International Youth Day, the Secretary-General said that young people who have been active in the preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, must remain active during the follow-up. He said young people must keep making their voices heard as the main stakeholders of our planets future.

I call on all of us, he said, to make the best possible use of young peoples imagination, energy and indomitable spirit, in the cause of sustaining the future for succeeding generations.

BROWN HAZE IN SOUTH ASIA THREATENS ENVIRONMENT, ECONOMIC GROWTH

A new study by scientists working with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says that a vast blanket of pollution in South Asia is causing serious environmental damage.

The cloud, known as the Asian Brown Haze, has caused a minimum of hundreds of thousands of premature deaths annually across Asia. The scientists even suggest that the death toll may even run into a million or two million. The cloud is also damaging agriculture and disrupting weather systems, including rainfall and wind patterns.

The findings indicate that the spectacular economic growth seen in this part of the world in the past decade may soon falter as a result of the Brown Haze.

UNEP says it is concerned that the regional and global impacts of the haze are set to intensify over the next 30 years as the population of the Asian region rises to an estimated 5 billion people.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Asked if the Secretary-General had received any response to his most recent letter to the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Naji Sabri, concerning Iraqs offer to host talks in Baghdad with Dr. Hans Blix, the Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, the Spokesman said the United Nations was still awaiting an official response to that letter. Asked if there was a UN deadline for a response from Iraq, the Spokesman said he was not aware of one.

Asked if there was a response to a request from the Iraqi authorities to be allowed to pay their United Nations dues from proceeds of the "oil for food" program, the Spokesman said that was a matter for the Security Council to decide, not the Secretary-General.

The Secretary-General s report on Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects was published as a document today. The weapons include booby traps, anti-personnel land mines, and laser weapons.

Two more Member States paid their 2002 regular budget contributions in full today. Nepal paid more than $44,000 and Syria almost $900,000, bringing the number of fully paid-up Member States to 93.


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