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United Nations Daily Highlights, 02-08-16

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

HUA JIANG

DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Friday, August 16, 2002

UNITED NATIONS RECEIVES LETTER FROM IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER

On Thursday night, the United Nations received a letter from Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri, addressed to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which is being translated from the original Arabic. It will be circulated as a Security Council document.

On August 5, the Secretary-General had written to Foreign Minister Sabri, and had indicated that he looked forward to receiving from the Iraqi Government a formal invitation to the UN weapons inspectors.

Asked when the letter might be issued as a document, the Spokeswoman said that the translation was expected to be completed before the end of the day, after which it could proceed to be issued.

Asked about any reaction from the Secretary-General, she said he is on vacation right now but continues to be informed of developments, and might react in due course.

ANNAN VOICES SYMPATHY FOR FLOOD VICTIMS, READINESS TO HELP

The Secretary-General expressed his sincere sympathy for the people and Governments suffering the effects of flooding in Central Europe, Russia, Iran, South Asia, China and the Philippines.

The United Nations is providing support to affected countries who have requested it, by delivering relief materials, mobilizing donor support, and serving as a conduit for the timely sharing of information which is so important in coordinating emergency response. The UN stands ready to assist any other affected countries that ask for help.

The Secretary-General also pointed out that World Summit on Sustainable Development, opening in just a few days time, will provide an opportunity to move forward on developing strategies to reduce the effects of natural disasters and to confront the serious environmental challenges affecting our planet. Such strategies must become an essential component of sustainable development policies and practices.

SECURITY COUNCIL APPROVES UN MISSION IN ANGOLA

The Security Council is not holding any sessions today, having wrapped up its work on Thursday afternoon, when it voted unanimously to authorize the establishment, for an initial six months, of a UN Mission in Angola, to help consolidate peace in that country.

The Mission, the Council decided, would assist the Angolan parties by chairing a Joint Commission to be established to deal with the peace process, among other tasks to help the parties fulfil the 1991 Lusaka Protocol.

The Mission will also assist the Angolan Government in the promotion of human rights, mine action, humanitarian assistance, reintegration of demobilized former combatants, economic recovery and preparations for elections.

Nothing is scheduled for the Security Council until next Wednesday, when it plans to discuss Burundi and missing persons and property in Iraq.

HUMANITARIAN ENVOY VISITS GAZA, MEETS PALESTINIAN CHILDREN

Today was Catherine Bertinis fifth day in the region. The Secretary-Generals Personal Humanitarian Envoy spent most of the day in Gaza.

This morning, she was able to hear directly from Palestinian children about their concerns and feelings when she visited the Childrens Parliament in Gaza. The project is run for Palestinian student leaders by the UN Childrens Fund.

Bertini and her team then went to Khan Yunis, where she spoke to Palestinian families especially hard hit by the current crisis.

She ended her day in Gaza by a visit to Rafah, on the southern tip of the strip. There she toured a Womens Center run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

The Personal Envoy and her team then returned to Jerusalem, where they met with representatives of the international donor community.

Saturday will be spent in the northern part of the West Bank.

On Sunday, Bertini will resume her meetings with Israeli authorities. She is expected to see both the Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, and the Defence Minister, Binyamin Ben Eliezer, as well as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

UN RELIEF FLIGHT IN DR-CONGO LEAVES FOR SITE OF CLASHES

A relief flight organized by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs left Kinshasa this morning for the town of Bunia, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Bunia has been the site of fierce ethnic fighting which left close to 100 people dead, and the United Nations estimates that up to 30,000 people may have been displaced by the clashes.

The Antonov cargo plane is carrying 14 tons of aid materials including tents, plastic sheeting, jerry cans and clothes, as well as food. The DRC Government has also supplied two tons of medical supplies.

UNHCR PRAISES SRI LANKA FOR TALKS WITH TAMIL TIGERS

In a statement issued today, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Rudd Lubbers, hailed the decision by the Sri Lankan Government to begin direct peace talks with the Tamil Tiger rebels.

This carries a huge potential for the return of hundred of thousands of people uprooted by the conflict, Lubbers said.

UNHCR estimates that the 19-year old conflict South Asias longest uprooted some 800,000 people within the country and drove another 80,000 out of Sri Lanka.

The announcement by the Government coincided with a visit to the island by Kamel Morjane, Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees. During his tour, which included the northern Jaffna Peninsula, Morjane noted that considerable funds would be needed to ensure the feasibility of the return of Sri Lankans uprooted by the conflict.

UNHCR today also noted the resumption of aid activities in the Pankisi Gorge in Georgia as well UNHCRs follow-up action in Uganda following the attacks on refugee camps there last week.

OIOS ISSUES REPORT ON RACIAL, GENDER DISCRIMINATION

A report was issued today by the Office of Internal Oversight Services, on its inspection of possible discrimination within the United Nations, whether due to nationality, race, sex, religion or language.

The report concludes that there does not appear to have been any systematic and consistent preference or exclusion that impaired equal opportunity for any given region, whether in appointments, promotions or re-appointments, during the past six-year period. However, there have been instances where, at certain levels, regional differences do exist.

The report says that, although some strides have been made in achieving gender parity, that process has been slow, with men more likely to be hired, promoted and re-appointed particularly at the higher grades.

The Office of Internal Oversight Services also says that the complaint mechanisms for dealing with discrimination within the UN need to be strengthened, in part by making the Panel on Discrimination and other Grievances more effective. It also recommends that the Secretary-General should issue a bulletin in which he articulates a policy on discrimination for the United Nations.

In a note attached to the report, the Secretary-General says he concurs with the reports recommendations and is committed to ensuring that discrimination is not tolerated in the United Nations, and that any allegations of discrimination will be promptly addressed. He recently appointed an Ombudsman, Patricia Durrant of Jamaica, to work to help resolve conflicts, including allegations of discrimination.

FAO, WFP WARN FOOD INSECURITY AFFECTS SIX MILLION AFGHANS

A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) says today that some 6 million people in Afghanistan would remain highly vulnerable to food insecurity and would continue to need relief food assistance over the next year.

The report says the effects of successive years of drought and deteriorating irrigation and other infrastructure, among other things, render a timely and effective intervention all the more essential.

Besides urging the continuation of food distributions, the report calls for sustained investment in the agricultural sector.

HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF VOICES CONCERN AT GUATEMALA TRIAL

High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson today expressed serious concern about the prosecution in Guatemala, on defamation charges, of Bruce Harris, the director of Casa Alianza, an organization that defends the rights of street children in Central America.

At a 1997 press conference, Harris mentioned an individual allegedly involved in trafficking Guatemalan and Mexican babies. Following a 1999 ruling by Guatemalas Constitutional Court that only journalists have freedom of expression, Harris is to be tried in a criminal, and not civil, court for defamation over his comments.

Robinson urged Guatemala to implement international obligations to protect freedom of expression.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

In an exchange of letters, the Secretary-General and the Security Council agreed to extend the mandate of the UN Office in the Central African Republic for a further 12 months, until December 31, 2003.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced that some 90 judges will attend the Global Judges Symposium in Johannesburg beginning on Sunday. The three-day symposium will look at environment-related laws and ways to strengthen their implementation.

The World Health Organization has issued a revised fact sheet on ultra-violet (UV) radiation and skin cancer and cataracts. It outlines the dangers of UV radiation and measures that can be used to minimize risk of skin cancer and cataracts and outlines exposure categories and colors associated with them as part of the Global Solar UV Index.

The UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) reminded local hunters that hunting is not permitted in the buffer zone. As the small game season opens this Sunday, the Mission says that hunters wearing camouflage outfits and carrying guns are easily mistaken for soldiers and therefore can be at risk of coming under fire from either of the opposing forces.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS Monday, August 19 The Secretary-Generals Personal Humanitarian Envoy, Catherine Bertini, is scheduled to leave Tel Aviv at the end of an eight-day visit to the Middle East.

Tuesday, August 20 Wednesday, August 21 The Security Council intends to hold consultations on missing persons and property in Iraq, and on Burundi. At 10:30 a.m., the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the Microcredit Summit Campaign will sponsor a panel discussion on empowering Women Through Microcredit, which will feature UNIFEM Executive Director Noeleen Heyzer, UN Population Fund Executive Director Thoraya Obeid, Under-Secretary-General Anwarul Karim Chowdhury and other speakers.

Thursday, August 22 The Security Council intends to hold consultations on the situation in the Middle East.

Friday, August 23 Today is the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition.

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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