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United Nations Daily Highlights, 02-08-21

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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

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES MISSING PERSONS IN IRAQ, BURUNDI

The Security Council met in closed consultations this morning. It first took up the Secretary-Generals report on missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals in Iraq. Ambassador Yuli Vorontsov, the High Level Coordinator for Iraq, presented the report to Council members.

The next item on the Security Councils agenda was Burundi. Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Tuliameni Kalomoh provided Council members with an update on the political, security and humanitarian situation in the country. Kalomoh also provided an update on the ongoing talks in Tanzania between the Burundian government and various rebel groups.

Following the closed consultations, the President of the Security Council, Ambassador John Negroponte, told journalists that members of the Council expressed their deep concern at the continuing plight of Kuwaiti and Third Country nationals still missing in Iraq and hoped that the issue would continue to be dealt with as a strictly humanitarian issue.

On Burundi, he said that Council members appealed to the armed groups for an immediate cessation of hostilities and called on them to negotiate in good faith during the ongoing talks in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

TASK FORCE ON PALESTINIAN REFORM TO MEET IN PARIS

On Thursday in Paris the International Task Force for Palestinian Reform will open a two-day meeting to review progress made so far.

When the task force was created in London in early July, it set up support groups to look at seven specific areas: Civil Society, Financial Accountability, Local Government, Market Economy, Elections, and Judicial and Administrative Reform. These support groups operate on-site and work side by side with Palestinian officials to implement the 100-day reform initiative submitted by the Palestinian Authority earlier this year.

The Task Force is composed of the members of the Quartet the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia as well as Norway, Japan, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The Palestinian delegation will be led by the Information Minister, Yasser Abed Rabbo, and will include a number of other Cabinet-level officials.

Israel will be represented by Yossi Gal, the Deputy Director-General of the Foreign Ministry. Also included in the Israeli Delegation will be, among others, officials from the Finance Ministry and the Israeli Defence Forces.

CHINA READY TO INCREASE CONTRIBUTIONS TO UN PEACEKEEPING

Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean Marie Guéhenno wrapped up a three-day visit to Beijing today, during which he explored with the Chinese authorities their expanded participation in United Nations peacekeeping.

During the visit, he met top officials from the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Public Security. He also visited the Police Academy, where a new training center for UN Civilian police will be built to meet Chinas desire to be more active in peacekeeping operations.

Chinese officials also told Guéhenno that China now has a number of units on standby for UN operations, ready to be deployed within 90 days. These are mostly medical and engineering units, not infantry combat units.

Guéhenno was informed that, when required, China can dispatch a medical unit to the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. An engineering unit would also be ready in the future. Guéhenno has agreed to send over a UN team to inspect the Chinese medical unit.

FORMER RWANDAN ARMY CHIEF PLEADS NOT GUILTY AT TRIBUNAL

Today in Arusha, Tanzania, Augustin Bizimungu, the former chief of staff of the Rwandan Army, pleaded not guilty to ten counts of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions.

Bizimungu was making his initial appearance before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, to which he was transferred by the Angolan Government last week after being identified and arrested while he was at a demobilization area for UNITA rebels in Angola. He is one of the most senior former Rwandan military commanders to be apprehended to date by the Tribunal.

UN EXPERT SAYS RACISM, ANTI-SEMITISM ON THE RISE SINCE 9/11

In a report issued today, the Special Rapporteur on Racism, Maurice Glélé-Ahanhanzo, notes the inhospitable climate that human rights promoters have had to contend with since the events of last September 11.

He says that there has been a resurgence of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia in various parts of the world, with the aftermath of the September 11 attacks seeming to have engendered a stigmatization of Muslims and Arabs, who are supposed to be hand in glove with the terrorists. He notes numerous complaints about the rigorous treatment awaiting travelers from the South to the North.

In parallel with the worsening tensions in the Middle East, the report says that anti-Semitic acts have also increased in number, with Jewish organizations reporting several thousands of incidents, ranging from anti-Semitic graffiti to attacks on synagogues.

The report concludes that it takes conviction, consistency, perseverance and determination to combat racism, and the current international context should not allow that to be lost from view.

ANTI-MALARIA PROJECT IN VIETNAM CUTS DEATH RATE BY 97 PERCENT

The campaign against malaria underscores the importance of the third priority area for the

Johannesburg Summit, which is health.

Malaria is a serious life-threatening disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Africa accounts for 90 percent of deaths from malaria worldwide. Malaria costs Africa more than $12 billion annually in slowed economic growth, and it affects fertility, population growth, worker productivity and savings and investments.

In 1998, the World Health Organization, the UN Development Programme, the UN Childrens Fund and the World Bank got together and started the Roll Back Malaria Initiative. Its aim is to cut in half the worlds malaria burden by 2010 by involving all areas of society, a goal well on the way to being accomplished.

One of the most successful projects has been the introduction of insecticide-treated mosquito nets. In Viet Nam, the use of the mosquito nets has resulted in a dramatic 97 percent decrease in deaths from malaria.

Delivering mosquito nets alone does not get the job done. Mothers actually have to use them. In Viet Nam, Kenya and other countries, local communities are involved in actually making the nets. This not only generates interest in their use, but in their employment, as well.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Asked about the activities of Secretary-General's Personal Humanitarian Envoy, Catherine Bertini, since her return to New York, the Spokesman said that Bertini had briefed the Secretary-General by phone since leaving the region and that she was expected to brief the press later this week.

Asked if an internal UN memo detailed the findings of the forensics investigation in Dasht-e-Leily, Afghanistan, the Spokesman answered that the UN Mission in Afghanistan had issued a statement on Tuesday and that it would not, as a matter of principle, confirm the existence of a leaked internal memorandum. The Spokesman added that any investigation would now be in the hands of the Afghan Government, which has set up an independent Human Rights Commission. The United Nations, the Spokesman added, stands ready to assist the government in Kabul however it can.

Asked if any response had been received from either Cambodia or any other Member State following the letter the Secretary-General sent on Tuesday to Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Spokesman said that no official response had been received.

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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