13 March 1996

Press Briefing



Sylvana Foa, the Spokesman for Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, began today's noon briefing by announcing that the Secretary-General was still in Sharm el-Sheikh for the Summit of Peacemakers. This morning, the co- chairmen put out a statement listing several points they would be working on. The last point was to form a working group open to all Summit participants to prepare recommendations on how best to implement the decisions contained in the statement through ongoing work and to report to the participants within 30 days.

"The Secretary-General said that the United Nations will participate fully in this working group and will put at the disposal of participants in the group all documents and materials available to it and to its specialized agencies on the question of eliminating terrorism", Ms. Foa said. It was expected that the working group would convene soon.

She said that in a speech to the Summit, the Secretary-General said that "terror and terrorism had declared war against peace and security". There had been many declarations and resolutions on the elimination of terrorism, but the task before us now was "rapid and decisive action. The United Nations is ready to serve this cause, ready to serve as a mechanism for mobilization on a global scale. The United Nations awaits your instructions", Ms. Foa quoted the Secretary-General as telling the Summit members. She said that the Secretary-General's speech was available in the Office of the Spokesman.

Today, the Secretary-General also had bilateral discussions with the Foreign Minister of Yemen and the Foreign Minister of Algeria, Ms. Foa said. Details of those discussions were not yet available, but were expected soon.

"We have some more news from the suburbs of Sarajevo", the Spokesman said. Reports in the field said that the entry of Federation police into Ilidza yesterday was accompanied by hundreds of Bosnians from Sarajevo and Tarcin. Those were young thugs, many of whom looted and robbed Serb homes and resorted to intimidation of the few Serbs that remained in Ilidza."

"First, these people were being intimidated by Serbs in Ilidza who want them to leave. Now they are being intimidated by thugs from Sarajevo", Ms. Foa said. "In spite of the reinforced presence of the Implementation Force (IFOR) and the International Police Task Force (IPTF), this continued all day. In fact, the IPTF received a complaint, every five minutes, of looting, robberies and intimidation. That was until 8:45 p.m. when people went home because of the curfew."

She said that the situation in Grbavica, the last Serb suburb scheduled for take-over, remained tense due to armed Serbs roaming the area, robbing, looting and harassing. Nine buildings, including a school, were burnt yesterday. There were round-the-clock patrols of both the IPTF and IFOR, which had somewhat alleviated the situation. However, there were virtually no Serb police remaining. Most crimes took pace at night. The most vulnerable were the elderly. The old people were terrified and afraid to leave their homes because of fear that somebody would come in and take it. They were being threatened with grenades. Shadowy thugs were roaming around in cars.

"It is extremely sad that these poor people who had to scrape up all their courage to resist pressure to leave and who stayed are now being threatened and attacked in their homes", she said, reading from one of the field reports.

Ms. Foa referred correspondents to the Secretary-General's report to the Security Council on resolution 1044 (1996), which dealt with the Sudan. That report concluded that the Sudan had not complied with the demands of the Security Council to extradite three suspects to Ethiopia and that all of Sudan's neighbours visited by the Secretary-General's Senior Political Adviser, Chinmaya Gharekhan, had accused that country of supporting terrorist activity within their territories.

The Secretary-General said that he would continue to keep in touch with all parties concerned, as well as with the Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), on that issue, she said.

Ms. Foa said that Mr. Gharekhan was expected to brief the Security Council today on the political and security situation in Somalia. "There again, the news isn't very good", she said. "Evidently, the political and security situation in Somalia has not improved and the humanitarian situation is getting worse. There is evidence that malnutrition and disease are once again emerging in areas which had shown significant improvement. The agencies are faced with the dilemma."

She said that insecurity had increased logistical difficulties and made the delivery of assistance very expensive. The agencies were having to rely more and more on airlifts to get assistance into certain areas. At the same time, funding was drying up. Donors were fed up with funding operations in Somalia.

Insecurity was also hindering the response to a major cholera outbreak there, she went on. There were 1,881 cases of suspected cholera in February alone, leading to 23 deaths in Mogadishu and surrounding areas. The lack of security and the closure of Mogadishu Seaport were making the delivery of cholera medicines and supermix extremely difficult.

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The malnutrition situation was also not very good, although the nutritional survey that was going to be conducted in Mogadishu had been postponed until the cholera outbreak was under control, she said. Save the Children had reported that in two areas where they had supplementary feeding centres, 3.6 per cent of the children they were seeing were severely malnourished and 17 per cent were malnourished. In the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) supplementary feeding centre in Mogadishu, 12,000 malnourished beneficiaries came every day. The numbers were quite large, and she would try to obtain more information on the situation later.

She announced that Assistant Secretary-General Rosario Green would be the guest on a World Chronicle programme to be broadcast at 2:30 p.m. on in- house television channels 6, 23 and 38.

Turning to yesterday's question regarding United Nations training seminars held in Long Island, Ms. Foa said that the training course was going at the Harrison Conference Center in Glen Cove, Long Island, and was called "People Management Training Programme". The correspondent who asked about the making of paper planes at the course was correct. "The making of paper planes is a 20-minute ice-breaker that is conducted at the outset of the training programme", she said. "Normally, 24 participants are divided into six teams of four. Each team is given the task of making a paper plane from a piece of paper. They collaborate in the design, the construction and flying of these paper planes in competition with other teams." That was considered a way to approach team tasks in the most efficient and effective manner. It set the stage for the other main themes of the training.

Regarding funding, she said that the training programme was started with a trust fund for $1.5 million established by the Government of Japan in 1992. It had now been moved to the regular budget. The total cost of the entire programme was about half a million dollars. It was made part of the regular budget in mid-1995 because it was "part of the deal that the training would be institutionalized". So far, 300 people had been trained, and there would be three more training sessions this year; one in April, one in May and one in June.

In response to a question regarding insecurity in the Sarajevo suburbs and the question of deployment of IPTF personnel there, Ms. Foa said that there were about 360 such personnel in the Sarajevo region. The United Nations only had a little more than 500, which was not quite a third of the mandated 1,721. It was up to the force commander as to how many he would put in that location. Obviously, he had already put most of his people in the Sarajevo region, though he still had other areas that were equally in need. It was generally agreed by all those on the ground that if the IPTF had been deployed earlier, it would have given the people in the Sarajevo suburbs the confidence they needed to stay in their homes. That was one of the reasons that the Task Force was supposed to be deployed. "So it's a real shame that it was so late", she said. She was not sure that there was a deadline for the

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deployment, but the Task Force was supposed to have been on deck in time for the turn-over.

A correspondent asked why the international community was not condemning the Bosnian Muslim Government for not respecting the few remaining Serbs in the suburbs. Ms. Foa said, "that's what I am standing up here doing". She said that the issue affected both sides. For the last few weeks, the people had been harassed by young Serb thugs. Now they were getting it from young Muslim thugs. That was totally unacceptable. Some people were coming into the suburbs, trying to get back into their old homes from which they had been driven at the outset of the war, but too many thugs were running about intimidating people and using their new-found power. "This is a disgrace", she said.

A correspondent said that on 15 March there would be an international conference in Ankara to find money to finance the arming of Bosnia. Would the United Nations participate in that conference? Ms. Foa said that she would check to see if anybody would be participating.

In response to another question, Ms. Foa said that, on 8 March, Zohreh "Zuzu" Tabatabai was named the focal point for women in the Secretariat. "Everybody in the house knows now that if they have a problem, they should call Zuzu Tabatabai", she said. The Office of the Spokesman had also asked Ms. Tabatabai for less complicated figures on the promotion of women and number of women in the Organization.

On the difference between the new post and that held by Assistant Secretary-General Rosario Green, Ms. Foa said that Ms. Green was working on a more global issue, while Ms. Tabatabai was going to be dealing with the question of women within the United Nations system. The United Nations had had several problems, particularly in terms of numbers. It also had goals that it had not yet reached. Ms. Tabatabai would report to the head of personnel.

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For information media. Not an official record.