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UN Radio: UN Humanitarian Teams In Baghdad

UN Radio: UN Humanitarian Coordinator Leads a Team to Baghdad

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The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ramiro Lopes da Silva, today led a team of senior UN officials across the border from Jordan into Iraq. The team will re-establish a permanent presence of UN international staff in the Iraqi capital for the first time since hostilities began. The UN spokesman in Amman, Jordan, Nejib Friji says the arrival of the delegation will bring the number of UN international staff working in Iraq to more than 60 people:

"The UN team will operate from its headquarters in the Canal Hotel, which was damaged and looted along with the other public and private buildings in Baghdad following the collapse of law and order."

Spokesman Nejib Friji says the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator will continue to administer the oil-for-food programme on which 15 million Iraqis depend for their daily food requirements.

UNICEF Appeals for Early Re-Opening of Schools in Ira

qThe United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, has appealed for an early re-opening of schools in Iraq. The agency says that its national staff have worked tirelessly to help the Iraqi children during the war. UNICEF also reports that rehabilitation work has started at a centre for abandoned children in Baghdad. UNICEF spokesman, Simon Ingram, says the agency's appeal for an early re-opening of Baghdad schools seems to be bearing fruit:

"We are pressing for an official announcement of this by the US military authorities within days. None of this is to underestimate of course the scale of the task remaining. It is truly enormous."

UNICEF says that with more staff returning to Iraq it is at last acquiring resources to meet the challenges ahead.

Annan Deeply Disturbed by Israeli Incursions into Palestinian Territories

The UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he is deeply disturbed by Israeli military incursions today into Gaza City and the Rafah refugee camp. At least eight Palestinians were killed and many others injured during the attack. The Secretary-General stressed that such actions, including the reported house demolitions are contrary to international humanitarian law. He believes that they contradict the international community's efforts to re-start the Israeli Palestinian peace process following yesterday's presentation of the Road Map to the parties. UN spokesman Fred Eckhard:

"The Secretary-General remains convinced that there is no military solution to this conflict and calls on Israel to work with Prime Minister Abu Mazen to establish effective cooperation and ensuring security for both Israelis and Palestinians. He again urges the parties to embrace the Road Map and to work for its early implementation."

WHO Recommends that Suspect SARS Cases be Isolated

The World Health Organization today recommended that people suspected of having the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, SARS, be put in special wards in hospitals. The agency points out that countries around the world have their own diagnostic tests which have helped to increase the understanding of SARS. But WHO also cautions that some of the tests may be deficient. Dr. Klaus Stohr is WHO's Chief SARS scientist:

"For instance, it is currently quite difficult to detect with 100 per cent certainty virus or traces of the virus, its genetic material in let's say respiratory specimen or stools, in samples during the early phases of the disease. It is also not easy to find the immune reaction of the virus in patients during the early phase of disease."

WHO says it will have material to standardize SARS tests and make them available to its Member States.

Sierra Leone Asks Liberia to Hand Over Two Suspects

The Chief Investigator for the United Nations-supported special court for Sierra Leone, Alan White, has appealed to Liberia to hand over two suspects charged with crimes against humanity. Mr. White says the court's investigators have received credible information that former junta leader John Paul Koroma and Sam Bockarie are currently in Liberia. He said his office was trying to reach out to West African leaders to obtain their help in securing a hand over of the two suspects.

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