7 April 1997

Press Briefing



Juan Carlos Brandt, Associate Spokesman for the Secretary-General, informed corespondents at the start of today's briefing that Under-Secretary- General for Humanitarian Affairs, Yasushi Akashi would address the press in the second part of the briefing. (Mr. Akashi's briefing is being issued separately.)

Mr. Brandt told correspondents that the United Nations had provided Iraq today with its seventh weekly report on the implementation of Security Council resolution 986 (1995), on the "oil-for-food" plan. As of last Friday, 43 oil contracts had been approved, with one contract pending. The total volume of oil amounted to 113.9 million barrels. The total oil proceeds, as of last Friday, were $976 million. Of that amount, $644 million had been allotted to humanitarian supplies, $293 million to the United Nations Compensation Fund and the rest to other programmes.

The Secretariat had received 414 applications for the sale of humanitarian supplies, Mr. Brandt continued. Of those, 107 had been submitted to the Security Council Committee which monitors the sanctions against Iraq, 21 put on hold and 9 were pending the "no objection" deadline.

"Basically, 986 is moving ahead", the Associate Spokesman said. "Approximately 175,000 tons of humanitarian goods have arrived in Iraq and distribution of wheat has started around the country according to the quantities envisaged in the Distribution Plan; 400,000 tons of wheat and substantial quantities of rice, salt, white beans, chick peas and soap are expected in Iraq by the end of April."

United Nations observers in Iraq, Mr. Brandt continued, "are mobile and they communicate their findings regularly to the headquarters of the United Nations Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq; geographical observers, who are assigned missions of seven to 14 days, have so far reported unhindered access". Up to now, he noted, the Geographical Observation Unit alone had completed 45 observation missions. "We are very pleased that this is moving in the right direction", he added.

Turning to the situation in eastern Zaire, Mr. Brandt reminded correspondents of the approval by the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL), last Saturday, of the repatriation plan of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

"Preparations began immediately for the emergency airlift of Rwandan refugees in urgent need of medical care", he said, adding that the High Commissioner, Sadako Ogata, had expressed her "delight" at the news. Mrs.

Ogata's statement was available in the Spokesman's office, he noted. Workers from humanitarian agencies were now attempting to identify those people, among women, children, the sick and the elderly, who could be flown out within the next few days.

Initial plans called for the setting up of an air bridge between the cities of Kisangani and Goma, Mr. Brandt said. The UNHCR was capable of flying out several hundred refugees daily, but further negotiations would be required with the Rwandan Government to determine if the refugees could be airlifted directly to the Rwandan capital of Kigali.

According to a UNHCR report, Mr. Brandt continued, between 31 March and 3 April, a total of 8,748 Rwandan refugees returned to Rwanda through Gisenyi and another 617 returned by way of Cyangugu. That report was available to correspondents in the Spokesman's office, he said.

The latest report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Zaire, Roberto Garreton, had been issued and had been submitted to the Commission in Geneva. The Associate Spokesman noted that Mr. Garreton's report was embargoed until tomorrow 1215 hours GMT to coincide with the joint press conference by the three Special Rapporteurs on the situations in Zaire, Burundi and Rwanda, which would be held in Geneva at that time. The report (document E/CN.4/1997/6/Add.2) was available at the Spokesman's office.

The Secretary-General was in New Delhi, continuing his visit to India, Mr. Brandt said. "As you know, the Secretary-General went there to attend the XII Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement and also to meet with the President, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and other senior officials of the Indian Government." Several press releases concerning the Secretary- General's visit to India, including his arrival, activities, statement to the Non-Aligned Conference and a statement in response to a question on Albania, were available.

Summarizing those press releases, Mr. Brandt told correspondents that in his meetings with senior Indian officials, the Secretary-General had discussed United Nations reform and praised regional relations. "He said he was quite excited by the high-level talks between India and Pakistan and hoped that they would continue. He also took the opportunity to praise a water-sharing agreement between India and Bangladesh, and the peaceful settlement of a border dispute between India and China", the Associate Spokesman said.

The Secretary-General, in his address to the Conference of the Non- Aligned Movement, had appealed for support for his reform agenda, Mr. Brandt said. "As I pursue the goal of reform of the United Nations system", he said, "I need the advocacy, the support and the active participation of the Non- Aligned Movement."

Daily Press Briefing - 3 - 7 April 1997

The Secretary-General had also saluted entrepreneurship at a luncheon with Indian corporate executives, Mr. Brandt said. There he had repeated a call he had made at the Davos conference in Switzerland, for a partnership between the United Nations and the private sector to increase private investment in developing countries.

The Secretary-General had held private meetings with the Foreign Minister of Pakistan and Bangladesh. He had also met with the Chief Military Observer of the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), General Ahn, and with the head of the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan, Norbert Holl.

Mr. Brandt told correspondents that the meeting between His Excellency Mr. Rauf Denktash and the Secretary-General would take place in Geneva, at the Palais des Nations, on 9 April, at 1630 hours, local time. "As you know, the meeting between the Secretary-General and Mr. Denktash is taking place in the context of the mission of good offices of the Secretary-General with the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities." In that context, "the Secretary-General meets periodically with the leaders of the two communities, Mr. Glafcos Clerides and Mr. Rauf Denktash."

The Preparatory Committee for the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) would begin its first session today at Headquarters, Mr. Brandt said. During the meetings, which would last until 18 April, the Committee would consider the principles, objectives and ways to promote the full implementation of the Treaty, as well as its universality. The Committee would make recommendations to the 2000 Review Conference. The session would set into motion the new, strengthened review process for the Treaty.

The NPT, which entered into force on 5 May 1970, now had 185 States parties, Mr. Brandt noted. Its review conferences were held every five years, as provided by the Treaty. He reminded correspondents that at the NPT Review and Extension Conference, held at Headquarters from 17 April to 12 May 1995, a majority had been in favour of the indefinite extension of the Treaty. The States parties had then decided, without a vote, that the NPT would continue in force indefinitely.

"Just to give you a heads-up: the Preparatory Committee session on the NPT will not be covered by the Department of Public Information (DPI)", Mr. Brandt told correspondents. There were three reasons. "The meeting is not a United Nations conference, but a conference of States parties to the Treaty. The Preparatory Committee was asked if they wanted press coverage, and they declined. And finally, there are several, back-to-back meetings that DPI has to cover at the same time." Correspondents were asked to contact Hannelore Hoppe, extension: 3-5540 at the Centre for Disarmament Affairs for information on the meetings.

Daily Press Briefing - 4 - 7 April 1997

Mr. Brandt announced that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) "have agreed to work together to strengthen primary education in India, particularly for girls and for children from disadvantaged communities". The new United Nations system programme would work with the Indian Government to increase community participation in school management, improve teacher and student performance, raise awareness on children's rights and increase student attendance. The UNDP was contributing $900,000 to the preparatory phase to help plan geographical and population coverage. The initial working budget was expected to be $20 million.

Also, UNDP was launching a Global Information Network for Small Islands on sustainable development, he said. It was a follow-up action to the 1994 United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States, held in Barbados. The UNDP had announced today the formation of the Small Island Developing States Network (SIDSNet), a global information networking programme to help small islands exchange and gain information on sustainable development and the environment. As many as 43 small island countries, Mr. Brandt noted, could benefit by receiving the technology and training needed to participate in the Internet programme. Copies of those UNDP press releases were available to correspondents.

Today was the opening session of the Coordinating Board of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) at the United Nations Office at Geneva, the Associate Spokesman said. Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said that the HIV/AIDS epidemic continued to expand. In 1996, there were an estimated 3.1 million new infections; HIV/AIDS associated illnesses caused the death of about 1.5 million people worldwide, including 350,000 children. A press release on the meeting was available in the Spokesman's office.

The Associate Spokesman informed corespondents about a seminar to be held in Dakar, Senegal, under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) from 14 to 18 April, on improving food supplies and distribution systems for African cities. "By the year 2020, nearly 60 per cent of the African population will live in urban areas, compared with 50 per cent today, and most African cities will double in size within 20 years", he noted. A press release from the FAO was also available.

During the question-and-answer session, there was a query as to whether the Preparatory Committee on the Review Conference of the NPT -- that would not be covered by DPI press officers -- would also be closed to the press. Mr. Brandt said he believed that if the correspondent expressed his interest in covering the meetings, he might be able to do so. He also referred the correspondent to Ms. Hoppe of the Centre for Disarmament Affairs.

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For information media. Not an official record.