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WAR ON IRAQ

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From the UN web site....

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING - 20-Mar-03

BY FRED ECKHARD
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, March 20, 2003

ANNAN: UNITED NATIONS COMMITTED TO SUPPORTING IRAQI PEOPLE

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Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a statement that today that despite the best efforts of the international community and the United Nations, war has come to Iraq for the third time in a quarter of a century.
 

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He said that it was possible that, if we had persevered a little longer, Iraq could yet have been disarmed peacefully, or if not the world could have taken action to solve this problem by a collective decision, endowing it with greater legitimacy, and therefore commanding wider support, than is now the case.
 

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But he emphasized that, instead of dwelling on the divisions of the past, we must confront the realities of the present, however harsh, and look for ways to forge stronger unity in the future.
 

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Saying that his thoughts today are with the Iraqi people, who face yet another ordeal, the Secretary-General committed the United Nations to doing whatever it can to bring them support.
 

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He said that the past weeks have shown what great importance the world attaches to the legitimacy conveyed by the authority of the United Nations, and their desire to see power harnessed to legitimacy. He noted how people want their leaders to come together, in the United Nations, to resolve the problems shared by all humanity.
 

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The Secretary-General promised, I will do my utmost to ensure that the United Nations rises to this challenge.
 

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Asked whether the Secretary-General had been in touch with other world leaders about the Iraq conflict, the Spokesman said he had not contacted other Heads of States, but, since Wednesday night, had spoken by phone with the British and U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations, among others.

IRAQ: SECURITY COUNCIL CONSIDERING EMERGENCY AID PROPOSALS

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The Secretary-General sent a letter to the Security Council Wednesday evening on possible adjustments to the "oil-for-food" program for Iraq.
 

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The Secretary-General, in his statement to the Security Council earlier Wednesday, said the proposals are aimed at enabling the United Nations to continue providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq during and after hostilities. Such adjustments would require decisions by the Council.
 

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The letter is expected to be discussed by Council members on Friday.
 

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Asked what the United Nations can do to help the Iraqi people, the Spokesman added that the Secretary-Generals initiative was a first step, in which he proposed that the Security Council loosen the rules of the oil-for-food program so that its funds could be used, when possible, for general humanitarian relief in Iraq.

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LOCAL UN STAFF IN IRAQ CONTINUE HUMANITARIAN WORK

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UN humanitarian agencies held the first of their daily briefings in Amman, Jordan today, in which they noted that, while UN international staff had been evacuated, the agencies local staff continued to work.
 

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The World Food Programme said 800 national staff members would continue to work as far as security conditions permit and food supplies last. More than 328 staff from the World Health Organization are continuing to work and to prepare for the potential impact of conflict, using supplies pre-positioned in Iraq.
 

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The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it had so far no reports of refugees moving out of Iraq. The Spokesman outlined UNHCRs efforts in working with Iraqs neighbors Syria, Jordan, Iran and Turkey to deal with the expected flow of refugees.

UN HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF ON IRAQ: EVEN WARS HAVE RULES

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High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello today issued a statement appealing to all parties involved in the hostilities in Iraq to respect human rights and humanitarian law. Even wars have rules, he said, stressing that no-one should be arbitrarily deprived of the right to life, arbitrarily detained or subjected to torture.
 

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He said his paramount concerns are for the safety and protection of civilians, the provision of adequate resources to the civilian population and guaranteed access and security for humanitarian workers.
 

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Asked about whether Iraq's Mission to the United Nations had asked the United Nations about its own security, the Spokesman said he was unaware of any request. Asked further about the rights of UN Missions, he noted that they were governed by bilateral understandings between the respective governments, the Host Country Agreement and good old-fashioned property rights.
 

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He said that the General Assembly, through its Credentials Committee, decides on the status of a countrys accredited officials, while the host country reserves the right to sent out personnel if they are deemed to be security threats.

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UN HUMANITARIAN OFFICIALS EXPRESS CONCERNS AT WAR

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In his appeal on Iraq, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, urged Iraqs neighboring countries to keep their borders open to those in need of temporary protection and assistance. Despite all of the UNs efforts to find a peaceful solution, we are now faced with the sad reality of war in Iraq and more suffering for the Iraqi people, Lubbers added.
 

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The Executive Director of the UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF), Carol Bellamy, expressed her agencys deep concern about the impact of this war on Iraqi children and women. She said that children, who are always vulnerable in war, are especially so in Iraq, where poor governance, two prior wars, and years of international sanctions have combined to weaken the Iraqi population.
 

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Kochiro Matsuura, Director-General of the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said that on this day he can only express his heartfelt emotion, his infinite sadness and his most profound wish that the loss of human life and the scale of suffering and destruction will be reduced to a minimum.

UN ENVOY IN AFGHANISTAN VOICES SORROW AT IRAQ CONFLICT

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In Afghanistan today, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, said that this was a sad day for the United Nations and added, I think that the overwhelming majority of people all over the world think that this war is not justified and that the so-called disarmament could have been achieved by peaceful means.
 

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He voiced the worry that war in Iraq may take attention and resources away from Afghanistan, but added that U.S. officials have repeatedly hold him that no matter what happens in Iraq, they will not lose interest and they will continue to support Afghanistan.

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SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC COUP

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The Security Council held closed consultations on the Central African Republic, with a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Tuliameni Kalomoh on the coup in that country.
 

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The Secretary-Generals Representative in the Central African Republic, General Lamine Ciss, arrived back in the capital, Bangui, shortly after the coup earlier this week. Since then, he has had a number of contacts with key actors in Bangui.
 

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During a meeting with the coup leader, General Francois Boziz, General Ciss stressed the need for the national reconciliation of all Central Africans, including the former collaborators of President Ange-Flix Patass. Ciss also recommended that Boziz meet representatives of all political parties, including the former ruling party, as well members of civil society.
 

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Boziz was also asked to ensure the protection of the diplomatic missions and international organizations in an effort to restore confidence.
 

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Looters attacked the homes of a number of UN personnel, as well as a WFP warehouse.

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

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Following the briefing on the Central African Republic, Security Council members turned their attention to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with a briefing by Under-Secretary General Jean Marie Guhenno, who reported on the latest situation in the Ituri region in the northeast part of the country and on a meeting held last week in Pretoria, South Africa regarding the outstanding military issues in the DRC.
 

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The Security Council then unanimously adopted a resolution in which members condemned the massacres and other violations of international humanitarian law in the DRC, in particular sexual violence against women and girls as a tool of warfare. The Council, among other things, also requested the Secretary-General to strengthen the human rights component in the UN Mission in the DRC and to make recommendations to the Council on ways to address the issue of impunity.
 

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Then at 3:30 p.m., the Security Council is holding a meeting with troop-contributing countries to the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL).

ANNAN SEEKS TWO-MONTH ROLLOVER OF WESTERN SAHARA MISSION

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The Secretary-General, in a letter to the Security Council out as a document today, said he would defer his report on Western Sahara until May 19, to give the parties time to reply to the proposal of his Personal Envoy, James Baker.
 

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He also asked for a two-month extension of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

UN BUDGET: Today, Qatar, with a payment of more than $459,000, became the 63rd Member State to pay its 2003 regular budget contribution in full.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
USA
Tel US:212-963-7162 - press/media only
Fax US: 212-963-7055

More at UN Website

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