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Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

3 May 2005

Following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Associate Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon.

**Security Council

The Security Council this morning approved its programme of work for the month of May. Council members then heard a briefing on the latest developments in Côte d’Ivoire from Dmitry Titov, the Director of the Africa Division in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The Security Council President, Ambassador Løj of Denmark, is scheduled to brief on the programme at 12:30, in just about 28 minutes, in room 226.

**Côte d’Ivoire

Turning to Côte d’Ivoire, the UN Mission in Côte d’Ivoire has reported that some 600 people have been staying at a church and the mayor’s office in the town of Duékoué, after fleeing their homes in the wake of inter-ethnic clashes. Humanitarian workers travelled to the town today to assess the situation and verify the number of displaced persons.

The UN mission, which has reinforced its patrols in the area, yesterday organized an inter-ethnic reconciliation meeting, which was attended by traditional leaders from the different ethnic groups, local administrators, government authorities, as well as representatives of militia groups. The participants agreed, among other things, that joint patrols would be increased, that the market would be reopened and public transport would resume.

The UN mission reported today that tensions had eased in the area, which was slowly returning to normal. Meanwhile, the UN mission transported a Force nouvelles delegation to the capital, Yamoussoukro, today to attend a seminar on the disarmament process.


Turning to Sudan, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, is in Nairobi, today where he is to meet with John Garang, the Chairman of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) to discuss the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement and the deployment of UN peacekeepers.

Meanwhile, the UN Mission in Khartoum report that the security situation in Darfur continues to be fluid. In North Darfur, banditry activity has been prominent with two incidents where commercially hired UN trucks were looted. An international NGO staff member and vehicle were detained and released two days later.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and its NGO partners today opened the 12th camp in eastern Chad for refugees from Darfur to ease overcrowding in some of the existing camps in Chad.


Turning to Togo, the outflow of refugees sparked by the ongoing political crisis in Togo is still rising, with 18,500 refugees now reported in neighbouring Benin and Ghana by the UNHCR.

**Sierra Leone Special Court

The Special Court for Sierra Leone has ordered the prosecution of five individuals for contempt of court, for allegedly revealing the identity of, and threatening, a protected witness.

The Court’s decision, taken last Friday, was announced today in Freetown. The Court accuses one of the five individuals, Brima Samura, of revealing one witness’ name to two other people, who, in turn, said they would attack the witness’ house. And we have a press release from the Court available upstairs.

**Secretary-General Remarks

The Secretary-General, this morning, congratulated the Women’s International Forum on its 30th anniversary, and he discussed the proposals he has made to reform the United Nations. He told them that, four months before the September summit, it is natural to see Member States stake out their positions on UN reform. But, he added, “We will not get very far if each advocates only its own interests. There must be flexibility, and a willingness to respond to the needs of others.” His remarks are available upstairs.

And in about an hour from now, the Secretary-General will meet with the Mayors for Peace, who I think you just heard from. He will tell them that we must revitalize the long-term vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. And we will have his remarks available, as well.


Turning to the issue of AIDS, in a report to the General Assembly, the Secretary-General says that despite encouraging signs that AIDS is beginning to be contained in a small but growing number of countries, the overall epidemic continues to expand. He warns that much of the world risks falling short of the targets set forth in the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS.

The report adds that, while political commitment to responding to AIDS has become significantly stronger since 2001, it remains inadequate in many countries in which the epidemic is emerging as a major problem. The report is out on the racks and available to you.


Tuning now to polio, you may have seen some media reports that polio has reached Indonesia. The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that that virus may be traced back to a recent West African outbreak, which started when polio vaccination activity stopped in Nigeria.

WHO also says it needs to raise $50 million between now and the end of July to conduct polio vaccination campaigns for children in the so-called “polio virus reservoir countries”, such as Nigeria and India. And an additional $200 million are required for next year's activities. And we have more information available upstairs on that.


Today marks the launch of the first-ever joint World Malaria Report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO). It notes that more countries are turning to the most modern malaria medicines, and that more people are getting long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets through innovative new programmes.

At the same time, however, the report finds that the disease still kills 1 million people every year, mostly in Africa. And according to Ann Veneman, the new Executive Director of UNICEF, malaria takes more children’s lives in Africa than any other infectious disease —- three times as many as HIV/AIDS. And we have a UNICEF/WHO release on that available upstairs.

**Ethiopia Floods

We also have upstairs information from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), an update on the continuing flooding in Ethiopia.


And out on the racks an exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the Security Council President on the appointment of François Lonseny Fall of Guinea as the new Special Representative for Somalia.

**World Press Freedom

Today is World Press Freedom Day, and in a message to mark the occasion, the Secretary-General says that he salutes the courage and dedication of journalists struggling against risk and outright brutality to exercise their right to seek and tell the truth.

Noting that, in 2004, nearly 60 journalists were killed in the line of duty, he reminds governments that the right to “seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media” is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In a separate message, Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), says that, without freedom of expression and a free media, “democracy cannot prevail and development remains unattainable”. And we have copies of those statements upstairs.

**DPI Stories

Also today, linked to World Press Freedom Day, for the second year in a row, the Department of Public Information has released a list of ten stories that the UN feels the world should hear more about.

The list, which was put out earlier today, includes the crippling child bearing disease fistula, the humanitarian crisis in Uganda and the new growth of infectious diseases in places where man has degraded and destroyed his environment, to cite just three.

And a press release is available upstairs, and also on the web.

**Guests at Noon Tomorrow

Tomorrow we will have the often announced, but often delayed, briefing on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. François Dureau, the Chief of the situation Centre, and Margaret Carey, a Principal Officer in the Africa Division of DPKO, will be joining us at noon to brief on recent developments in the DRC.

And that’s it from me, any questions?

Yes, Nick?

**Questions and Answers

Question: Lebanon again. Any update on that? And do we have any specific calendar on the new UNDP head and when he will assume that title?

Associate Spokesman: No update on Lebanon. And on UNDP, I will check when he will be here and see if we can bring him down here to talk to you. James?

Question: Just on the statement you put out after the briefing on Friday on Maurice Strong. You made the clarification to the question did Maurice Strong hire his daughter-in-law? Actually, the clarification didn’t clarify that. Can you clarify it for us here now? Did Maurice Strong, was it Maurice Strong who hired Kristina Mayo to that job?

Associate Spokesman: As I said, we had discovered that his step-daughter, Kristina Mayor had been working for him in his capacity as Special Advisor. She had not disclosed her relationship to Mr. Strong on the UN Personnel Form, which is a violation of UN rules. She resigned on 21 April, I believe.

I want to make clear, though, that Mr. Strong himself had not concealed that she was his step-daughter, and had indeed sought approval for the appointment. We’re now examining why UN staffing policies and procedures were not followed in this particular case.

Question: And did he get approval?

Associate Spokesman: We’re examining exactly how this came about, that the UN had hired his daughter.

Question: So, he told the person that he was seeking approval from that it was his step-daughter, is that correct?

Associate Spokesman: That’s correct. He had not concealed the fact that she was his step-daughter.

Question: So, you don’t know who that person was yet?

Associate Spokesman: No. there was obviously a problem and we’re trying to examine exactly why these staffing rules were not respected. James?

Question: I have another question. I have read your list of ten most unreported stories. I have a problem with no. 7 of them, the Granada one. I was in Granada about three of four weeks ago.

It simply is not true that most of the country’s housing is in ruins. I don’t know how reliable the other nine stories are; but no. 7 is incorrect. And I notice that all the people cited as sources of that story aren’t in Granada. I wonder why we’re getting disinformation like that.

Associate Spokesman: Well, we’ll get some clarification for you from the Public Information Department on that. Erwin?

Question: I have a really dumb question on Kristina Mayo.

Associate Spokesman: Please.

Question: In your material you’ve spelled the name in two different ways: with a ‘K’ and a ‘Ch’.

Associate Spokesman: ‘K’.

Question: It is Kristina, okay.

Associate Spokesman: Thank you very much, and the...Aah, yes?

Question: My name is Annie (sp). Can you comment on Senator Norm Coleman’s recent speculation that there might be tips implicating the Secretary-General in the oil-for-food programme?

Associate Spokesman: No. I am not aware of that.

Thank you very much.

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