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United Nations Daily Highlights, 02-08-29

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

FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, August 29, 2002

UN FINDINGS SHOW DEEPENING PALESTINIAN ECONOMIC CRISIS

Preliminary findings released today on the Palestinian economy during the first half of this year reveal an economy in dire straits that has deteriorated rapidly since the beginning of the closures imposed by Israel in October 2000.

These figures, which will be part of a report to be issued next month, were released today in Jerusalem by Terje Roed Larsen, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle Peace Process.

Some of the highlights include an increase in the adjusted unemployment in the second quarter of the year, from 36 percent to 50 percent. Actual numbers fluctuate depending on the curfews, with numbers rising to 63 percent being unemployed on certain days.

Lost income from jobs in Israel that Palestinians no longer hold and from a drop in domestic productivity has reached $7.6 million per day for a total of $3.3 billion since October 2000.

Palestinians throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip have run out of money and are unable to work to earn it. They increasingly must rely on handouts, selling personal items, credit or anything else, simply to survive. The poverty rates estimated by the United Nations stand at 55 percent in the West Bank and 60 percent in Gaza.

I am deeply disturbed by the figures. But I am not surprised -- given the iron grip that Israel has applied on the West Bank, said Larsen this morning. Aid cannot fill the gap, but without it the economy would collapse. Against this backdrop, and before the eyes of the world, the Palestinian civilian population is scrambling to survive.

Larsen unequivocally condemned the terror attacks by Palestinian groups that prompted the Israeli action, and emphasized Israels legitimate right to self defense. But in the face of the growing human catastrophe, he asked Israeli officials to review their severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian people and goods.

ANNAN ARRIVES IN MOZAMBIQUE, MEETS PRESIDENT

Secretary-General Kofi Annan this morning left Lesotho and arrived in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, where he was met at the airport by President Joachim Chissano, whose Government greeted the Secretary-General with a 19-gun salute.

From the airport, he went to Maputos Heroes Circle, where he laid a wreath at a memorial for the fallen heroes of the countrys independence movement.

After that, he received the keys to the city from Mayor Artur Canana. He responded by praising the citizens of Maputo for their courage during the independence struggle.

The Secretary-General then met with the UN country team, and focused in his talks with them on two key issues: the fight against HIV/AIDS and food distribution during the current drought.

Those two topics also came up when the Secretary-General held a formal meeting this afternoon with President Chissano. After a one-on-one meeting, the two discussed AIDS and the drought, as well as other regional issues, while accompanied by their respective delegations.

President Chissano expressed his concerns about genetically modified food, and the Secretary-General assured him that all UN-distributed food was certified for its health and nutritional aspects and that the United Nations would not distribute any food that was deemed to be harmful.

They also discussed the political process in Mozambique. The Secretary-General noted that the President would not seek another term, and said neighboring countries would watch the elections scheduled for next year with interest. He offered the United Nations help in facilitating those elections, if needed.

At a press encounter afterward, the Secretary-General was asked about Zimbabwes land reform program, and he responded that, while land reform was necessary in that country, I dont think the approach of the government is the right one. He added, The best way to proceed with such land reforms is to have a credible plan based on the rule of law. Once that happens, he said, he was sure that Zimbabwe would receive the international support that it needs.

Asked about the most urgent needs for Africa, the Secretary-General pointed to the need for peace and for efforts to fight AIDS, which he said was destroying the continent.

The Secretary-General then visited the Mozarte Youth Training Center, where Mozambican teenagers enacted a mime performance about AIDS. The Secretary-General afterward asked the youths how many of them knew friends or relatives with HIV, and half of the teenagers raised their hands.

The Secretary-General later met with the countrys civil society leaders. This afternoon, he will meet with Afonso Dhlakama, the leader of the opposition, before attending a state banquet in his honor hosted by President Chissano.

Nane Annan, the Secretary-General's wife, visited a Maputo school to witness a game performed by young people living with HIV/AIDS on how to educate students to protect themselves from the virus. She described the young people as heroes because they are standing up and talking about their situation. In Lesotho Wednesday she visited a therapeutic feeding center for severely malnourished children and their mothers.

JOHANNESBURG PARTICIPANTS CREATE PARTNERSHIPS TO IMPLEMENT GOALS

In Johannesburg, countries and international organizations began announcing partnership initiatives at the World Summit on Sustainable Development aimed at achieving tangible results.

One of the major outcomes of the Summit, the partnerships mark an innovation that will connect the negotiated document with actual efforts to implement its goals.

The Summits Secretary-General, Nitin Desai, said, Too often, we have seen conferences end with only a document. We need government commitmentsthats what the negotiations are for. But we need to know who is actually planning to implement what the Summit decides. Desai also cautioned that the partnerships should not serve as a substitute for government commitments.

The European Union announced that it was launching major partnership initiatives on water and energy. The United Nations has received 218 partnership submissions, and more than 40 will be showcased over the next three days.

Meanwhile, negotiations continue on the draft text of the World Summit, with agreement on about 90 percent of the text now complete, including agreement on a provision to minimize the adverse effects of toxic chemicals by 2020.

UN BEGINS TRAINING STAFF FOR FIRST AFGHAN CENSUS

The UN Population Fund is supporting work by the Afghan Governments Central Statistics Office to design a national census for Afghanistan. Already, computers have been brought in and staff are being trained in the census effort, which will require more than 20,000 staff and is expected to be concluded by the middle of 2005.

Afghanistan has never had a population census, The last attempt to conduct one was in 1979, and was abandoned because of the poor security situation at that time.

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, is in Sweden today, to participate in a conference on conflict prevention and meet with Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, a day after he met with senior Danish Foreign Ministry officials in Copenhagen. He will travel Friday to Norway, to meet Foreign Minister Jan Petersen.

Brahimi is expected to be in New York, starting on September 9, and to remain there for most of September.

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES BOUGAINVILLE, SIERRA LEONE SANCTIONS

The Security Council met in closed consultations today. First, it reviewed the ongoing peace-process in Bougainville. The Director of the Department of Political Affairs Asia and Pacific Division, John Renninger, provided the briefing.

Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser of Mexico, Chairman of the Councils Sierra Leone Sanctions Committee, then briefed the other members of the Council on the fourth review of the Sierra Leone diamond certification process.

Ambassador Jagdish Koonjul of Mauritius provided an update on the work of the Council's ad hoc working group on Africa.

WFP WARNS OF INCREASED FOOD NEEDS IN POST-WAR ANGOLA

From Angola, the World Food Programme warns that lives are being put at risk because it lacks the necessary resources to start moving large quantities of food immediately to avoid any break in food distributions over the coming months.

With the rainy season underway and the countrys roads in poor condition, many parts of Angola are becoming increasingly inaccessible. WFP must therefore immediately build up the buffer stocks in several provinces. These stocks must last up to three months.

Previously, WFP estimated that 1.5 million people would be in need of food aid up to December, but since the peace process, the situation has changed rapidly. WFP now expects 1.9 million people will be in need before the end of the year.

Immediate contributions are vital to enable WFP to undertake the pre-positioning of stocks to support Angolans until the next harvest. Presently, WFP has less than 22 percent of the funding it needs for its operation in Angola.

WESTERN SAHARA REFUGEES FACE INCREASED HUNGER, AGENCIES SAY

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP) warned today that a serious lack of food aid and insufficient funding is threatening some 155,000 Western Saharan refugees who are living in camps along the Algerian border with Western Sahara.

Unless fresh contributions of food arrive, WFP reports that, by October, refugees will receive only 11 percent of their daily food aid requirements from the agency, which, it warns, will have severe health consequences for the refugees. The agency requires 8,336 metric tons of food aid, at a cost of $3.7 million above what it has so far received, to meet the refugees food needs up to next January.

Next month, UNHCR and WFP will conduct a comprehensive nutritional survey of Algerias refugee population, many of whom fled Western Sahara in 1975.

UN STAFFER KIDNAPPED IN SOMALIA, FOURTH THIS YEAR

For the fourth time this year, a United Nations staff member working in Mogadishu has been abducted. The Office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia condemned the abduction of Mohamed Farah Omar, a Somali staff member of the Food and Agriculture Organization, who was seized by armed men as he left his house Tuesday morning.

The United Nations is working to secure his unconditional release and asks all responsible leaders to work together for that to happen immediately.

ANNAN SAYS CENTRAL AFRICA REMAINS UNSTABLE

In a message to the members of the UN Standing Advisory Committee on the Questions of Security in Central Africa, the Secretary-General said the situation in the region remains serious due to a number of persistent conflicts, as well the continuing aftershock of wars that have been settled.

font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:EN-GB;mso-bidi-font-weight: Despite its enormous natural wealth, he went on to say in the message, central Africa remains one of the continents most unstable regions.

Nevertheless, the Secretary-General added, there is a glimmer of hope in a number of areas, notably the rapprochement between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a number of its neighbors.

In conclusion, the Secretary-General encouraged the ministers to pursue their efforts and show a strong political will to achieve a durable peace in the region.

The Secretary-Generals Representative in the Central African Republic, General Lamine Cissť, delivered the message in the capital, Bangui, during the Standing Committees 18th ministerial conference.

LOCAL BOSNIAN POLICE INVESTIGATED IN PROSTITUTION RING

The UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) today announced that Bosnian Interior Ministry officials have launched an internal disciplinary investigation against 25 Bosnian police officers from the Vitez area suspected of involvement in prostitution.

The UN Mission had interviewed five young women who were found to have been victims of human trafficking, and who identified the 25 police officers as customers of the Roki bar where they worked as prostitutes.

The Mission said it will follow closely the Interior Ministrys internal investigation, and will take the appropriate measures to deal with the implicated police officers.

Asked about an official delegation from Republika Srpska which was reportedly expelled from Kosovo, the Spokesman later answered that the delegation had not followed the proper procedure, to have the Permanent Mission of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations seek official permission to travel so that the proper security arrangements could be made.

JOHANNESBURG PUSHES TO REDUCE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF SUMMIT

For the first time, an attempt is being made to reduce the environmental impact of a major UN conference on its host city. The Greening the WSSD project intends to do just that.

The project partners, the Gauteng Department of Agriculture, Conservation, Environment and Land Affairs, the Global Environment Facility, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Conservation Union got together with community groups and non-governmental organizations to ensure that the Johannesburg Summit is organized with environmental best practices in mind and that minimal waste is generated by the thousands of participants.

In addition, a public awareness campaign has been launched on environmental issues to educate the public in Johannesburg, so that the effects will last long after the Summit is over.

In one project, recycling bins will be placed throughout the conference center to collect plastic, glass, paper and cans. Only non-recyclable material, a small portion of the Summits waste, will be sent to landfills.

Recycling companies will collect the materials in the bins and recycle them, employing 100 previously unemployed people. After the Summit is over, the bins will be used in Johannesburgs district and the newly trained people will be employed in buy-back centers.

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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