A spokesman travelling with Mr. Annan in Nairobi said that the two leaders, in telephone conversations with the Secretary-General, had reaffirmed their determination to effectively pursue the DRC peace process — “provided the Kabila Government also lived up to its undertakings.”The Presidents also pledged their mutual cooperation “in the quest to restore peace and stability in the entire Great Lakes region and stated that any bilateral differences would be resolved through peaceful negotiations,” the spokesman said in a statement.The UN peacekeeping operation in DRC, known by its French acronym MONUC, has an authorized strength of 5,537 military personnel, including up to 500 observers, supported by specialists in human rights, humanitarian affairs, public information, child protection, political affairs, medicine and administrative support. read more

“I had a very good discussion with members of both parties,” the Secretary-General told reporters as he entered United Nations Headquarters in New York this morning.Asked if he had come away from his visit more encouraged about UN relations with the United States, Mr. Annan answered, “Yes, you can say that.” “Obviously I had gone to Washington to see the Majority Leader and the Minority Leader; by the time I got there, roles had changed,” Mr. Annan observed, referring to a shift in control of the Senate from the Republicans to the Democrats. “But both gentlemen received me very well and were very supportive.”Meanwhile, a UN spokesman announced today that the Secretary-General will return to Washington D.C. on 31 May to deliver the keynote speech to the Global Health Council.The following day, Mr. Annan is scheduled to address a breakfast meeting which will be attended by some 500 members of the US Chamber of Commerce. According to the spokesman, the Secretary-General will use that occasion to seek support for his proposed Global AIDS and Health Fund. read more

In a statement issued in The Hague, the Tribunal said Protais Zigiranyirazo, a brother of the President’s wife, Agathe Kanziga, was arrested on charges of extermination or alternatively, with murder, as crimes against humanity. Known as “Mr. Z,” Mr. Zigiranyirazo allegedly joined others including Hassan Ngeze, Joseph Nzirorera and Jean Bosco Barayagwiza (who are already in the custody of the Tribunal) in the planning and ordering of the massacres during the genocide in Rwanda. He is accused of having facilitated the killings between April and July 1994 by collaborating with regional and local officials in the distribution of arms, the ordering of roadblocks and subsequent murders.During May 1994, the accused allegedly ordered his son, Jean-Marie-Vianney Makiza, to kill three police officers who had been detained at a roadblock located opposite his residence in Giciye.Mr. Zigiranyirazo, born in 1938, will be transferred to the UN Detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania, as soon as legal formalities in Belgium have been completed. read more

“The country’s widespread economic and social problems have prevented the few democratic advances achieved over the past few months from taking root,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in his report to the Security Council, released today at UN Headquarters in New York. “Tangible dividends of democracy remain illusory for the people. Institutional tensions, an inexperienced Government and the lack of transparency in governance constitute added sources of instability.”The Secretary-General says that he has been exploring with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other friends of Guinea-Bissau ways of assisting the Government of President Kumba Yala to stabilize the political situation. In the meantime, Mr. Annan calls on the country’s political actors at all levels to maintain dialogue and refrain from any actions that threaten national unity and the constitutional order.”Early engagement is crucial to reversing conditions of instability in Guinea-Bissau,” Mr. Annan writes. “With the assistance of UNOGBIS and the United Nations entities in Guinea-Bissau, some windows of opportunity remain open, but such windows may vanish quickly if they are not fully exploited.”The Secretary-General warns that without improvements in the daily lives of the population, the present precarious political situation, if left unattended, may ignite a new round of open conflict. “It is imperative that effective measures to re-launch the economy be taken, with particular focus on helping the most vulnerable groups in the society,” he adds.Appealing to all bilateral and multilateral partners of Guinea-Bissau, Mr. Annan says that besides actively participating in the forthcoming round-table conference, they should explore other mechanisms and arrangements, including through international and national non-governmental organizations, to help the people of Guinea-Bissau in re-establishing income-generating activities and energizing its private sector. read more

The campaign, under the theme “Your change for a real change,” was initiated by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) and will enable the organization’s members in some 100 countries to choose from a variety of donation options to support UNICEF’s children immunization programme.UNICEF is the world’s largest buyer of childhood vaccines and helps governments protect hundreds of million of children from vaccine-preventable diseases every year. Still, more than a quarter of the world’s youngsters are not protected by routine vaccination, the agency said.IAAPA will promote the three-year partnership and encourage its 5,600 members to adopt the programme. The group said its message would be that every child should have the opportunity to enjoy a healthy and happy childhood.”There is a natural affinity between UNICEF’s work with children and their communities, and the time for family recreation provided by IAAPA’s members in the amusement parks and attractions industry,” said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy. “We welcome this initiative for the IAAPA and its members to get involved in supporting children worldwide.” read more

Two years of economic slowdown has pushed the number of people without jobs to a record 180 million worldwide, with little prospect of any improvement in the global employment situation this year, according to a new report issued today by the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO). “The world employment situation is deteriorating dramatically,” ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said. “While tens of millions of people join the ranks of the unemployed or the working poor, uncertain prospects for a global economic recovery make a reversal of this trend unlikely in 2003.” In the new study, “Global Employment Trends,” the ILO estimates that since 2000 the number of unemployed worldwide grew by 20 million. The weakness of labour markets has also reversed recent reductions in “working poverty” achieved in the late 1990s. Particularly hard-hit have been women and youth, who often have jobs that are especially vulnerable to economic shocks, the report says. Unemployed workers pushed into informal jobs in search of work faced even more uncertainty due to the sector’s near total lack of unemployment or social security coverage. “This deteriorating world employment picture and the prospect of a weak or delayed recovery is very disturbing,” Mr. Somavia said. “A continuation of these trends will dramatically increase the number of unemployed and working poor. A full-scale global recession could have grave consequences for the social and political stability of large parts of the world.” read more

A UN spokesperson said the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was following very closely the ongoing investigation into the brutal murder. The women’s bodies were found earlier in the week dumped along a roadside near the provincial capital.”In a context where violence against women remains too often un-prosecuted and unpunished, it is particularly important that the authorities spare no effort to bring swiftly the perpetrators to justice,” Ariane Quentier said in the capital Kabul.UNAMA is concerned that the seriousness of the crime is compounded by the fact that a note was left at the scene, implying that the killing of the three women was linked to their work with a non-governmental organization (NGO), she said.”There is no confirmation that this was the motive for the killing, but the UN mission strongly condemns any threat to women working for NGOs,” she said. read more