UN Radio: Fighting in Liberia Hampers Relief
UN Radio: Fighting in Liberia Hampers Relief - Security Council Extends Disengagement force in Middle East by 6 Months - Withdrawal of Troops from Bunia - Nuclear Weapons Find in Iraq Shows No Recent Activity - Al-Qaeda Still Poses Threat
Fighting in Liberia Hampers Humanitarian Relief and Peace Talks
Fighting continues in the Liberian capital, Monrovia between government troops and rebel LURD forces. The hostilities resumed earlier this week, breaking a cease-fire agreement signed on June 17th by the two sides. The UN's Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Liberia, Abou Moussa, says this morning the fighting was less intense than on Wednesday. But he expressed concern that it is distracting the participants in the ECOWAS-sponsored peace talks in Accra, Ghana, from finding political solutions to the conflict. He also says it is disastrous for the civilian population.
"We went back … with the hope of resuming the required humanitarian assistance by the population. Unfortunately, we've had to evacuate our people again. … So, we are very much concerned about the situation of the population and we do hope that there will be a stop to the war so that we might again go back and attend to the needs. "
Security Council Extends Disengagement force in Middle East by 6 Months
The UN Security Council has extended through to December the UN peacekeeping force in the Middle East, known as UNDOF. The force was established in 1974 to monitor the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights. The Council used the opportunity to call on the parties in the Middle East conflict to act on its earlier resolutions, requiring the start of negotiations to establish a just and durable peace in the Middle East.
MONUC Reports Withdrawal of Troops from Bunia
The UN Security Council has also extended for an extra month the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC). UN Spokesperson Hua Jiang, says MONUC has reported progress in the disarmament of the troubled Ituri region of the DRC.
"The official deadline for the withdrawal of Congolese Union of Patriot Troops from Bunia ended yesterday at noon local time and UN mission in the DRC reported that the withdrawal is in progress. Bunia has been declared as arms-free town and it has become illegal to carry weapons of any type in town. "
IAEA Says Nuclear Weapons Find in Iraq Shows No Recent Activity
The International Atomic Energy Agency says evidence of a nuclear weapons programme found by American authorities in Iraq appears to confirm instead that the programme was not reactivated after 1991. Documents and equipment parts were reportedly handed over by a former Iraqi nuclear scientist, who had kept them buried in his garden in Baghdad. [The parts were components to nuclear centrifuges -- devices that are used to enrich uranium.] IAEA Spokesman in Vienna, Mark Gwozdecky says these findings are not evidence of an ongoing nuclear weapons programme in Iraq.
"These components were buried in the ground since 1991, so don't suggest that there has been any recent activity. Indeed, the comments of the scientist who buried the equipment appear to bear out this. He made it clear that there has been no work on centrifuges since 1991 and so in that sense, it's very consistent with what we've reported to the Security Council."
Anti-terrorism Monitoring Group Says Al-Qaeda Still Poses Threat
The Security Council Group monitoring international efforts to fight terrorism reports progress in combating the Al-Qaeda network. Key Al-Qaeda members have been detained, leading to the breaking up of a number of cells in different countries. But, the Group says, as recent bombings in Saudi Arabia, Chechnya, Morocco and Afghanistan demonstrate, Al-Qaeda still poses a significant threat to international peace and security. The Chairman of the Monitoring Group, Michael Chandler, says Al-Qaeda retains strong appeal among Islamist extremist elements around the world.
"The network continues to recruit new adherents, receive funds, explosives and arms and … some of its people anyway appear to be able to move around to do what they want to do. …..And further success in bringing down the Al-Qaeda network will require a sustained international effort, with … enhanced … sharing of information and coordination between member states."
UN Calls for All-Out Effort to Stamp Out Torture
UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan today called on all states to ratify the international agreements against torture and to contribute generously to the UN fund to aid its victims. He declared that "we have a long way to go in stamping out torture". Mr. Annan noted that the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture adopted by the General Assembly last December, will allow visits by independent international and national bodies to places where persons are deprived of liberty.