|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
Following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
Eric Schwartz, Deputy Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery, will be joining us today to talk about his recent assessment mission to Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, gave a press conference in Geneva today, in which he touched on three major issues: humanitarian reform proposals; troubling developments in Darfur; and natural disasters and climate change.
On humanitarian reform, he said that by the beginning of next year, there would be a humanitarian response fund for emergencies, which he hoped would eventually reach $500 million. Such a fund was needed because the world was routinely late in responding to crises as exemplified by the food crisis in Niger, he said.
On Darfur, Egeland drew attention to sharply escalating levels of violence, saying that if unarmed humanitarian workers continued to face such danger, they might not be able to keep helping the 2.5 million people currently requiring life saving assistance. We have more on Mr. Egeland’s briefing upstairs.
In Khartoum today, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Jan Pronk, deplored two recent attacks in Darfur, and expressed concerns over fighting in Chad.
At a press conference, Jan Pronk indicated that he would officially protest against the arrest of seven Sudanese lawyers who were taking part in a meeting being organized by a UN agency on human rights, displaced persons and issues relating to the conflict in Darfur.
He also said he would be travelling on Friday to Abuja, Nigeria, the site of peace talks currently being held on Darfur. We have a press summary available upstairs on his remarks.
The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Implementation of Resolution 1559, Terje Roed-Larsen, arrived in Cairo today, where he is to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak tomorrow.
Upon his arrival, Roed-Larsen met with the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. They discussed the implementation of the relevant provisions of resolution 1559. The Palestinian President expressed his full support for Roed-Larsen's mandate and for the full and complete implementation of all the provisions of the resolution. They agreed to remain in close contact on this issue.
After that, Roed-Larsen had talks with the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amre Moussa. They reviewed developments in the Middle East, particularly in Lebanon. They also discussed the upcoming report to the Security Council on resolution 1559.
**Secretary-General – Simon Wiesenthal
Last night the Secretary-General spoke at a memorial ceremony for Simon Wiesenthal, the Holocaust survivor and human rights activist and well-known Nazi hunter who died last week.
The Secretary-General took the opportunity to reiterate his support for a General Assembly resolution to establish an annual international day of commemoration in memory of the Holocaust and its universal lessons. The Secretary-General said we cannot just consign this evil to the past and forget about it. Every generation must be on its guard, he said in his statement. We have the full text upstairs.
**Democratic Republic of Congo - Report
Out on the racks today is the Secretary-General’s latest report to the Security Council on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the report, the Secretary-General asks the Security Council to act on his recommendation that more than 2,850 UN peacekeepers be sent to the UN Mission in DRC. He also asks for an extension of the Mission’s mandate for one more year, which would ensure its presence in the DRC through the election and the immediate post-transitional period.
Also on the UN Mission, the head of the Mission, William Lacy Swing, will brief the Security Council tomorrow.
**Democratic Republic of Congo – Inter-Agency Mission
And also on the DRC, the UN inter-agency mission currently in the country arrived today in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, in the eastern part of the country.
The mission is comprised of Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Margareta Wahlström, Assistant Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Jane Holl Lute, and the UN Development Programme Assistant Administrator Kathleen Cravero -- and that mission is there to examine the humanitarian and developmental challenges facing the DRC.
Before arriving in Goma, the mission examined progress and challenges in the disarmament and reintegration of militias in the Ituri district, and visited a camp for internally displaced persons near the town of Bunia. The mission will proceed tomorrow to Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu, before returning to Kinshasa.
Earlier today, the Security Council held consultations on Sierra Leone. Council members received a briefing on the drawdown of the UN Mission in that country by the UN’s Special Representative in Sierra Leone, Alan Doss. And, I believe the President of the Council is reading out two press statements right now.
**UN Briefing to United States House of Representatives
Chef de Cabinet Mark Malloch Brown is in Washington, D.C., today, where he is shortly to brief the International Relations Committee of the United States House of Representatives on what was and was not achieved at the UN World Summit, and the way ahead on reforming the United Nations.
Mr. Malloch Brown, who is to brief very shortly, is to say that advances in the reform agenda did take place at the Summit, although not to the extent that the United Nations had originally hoped. Still, he will tell them, the result was a document which marks an important step forward, and is a good basis for further progress. He will also detail the Secretary-General’s priorities for management reform. And, we have copies of his statement available upstairs.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today reports that about 12 million people in southern Africa need immediate emergency food deliveries because of poor cereal harvests. The report lists 24 countries in sub-Saharan Africa in need of immediate assistance.
The agency said that in addition to the poor harvests, the countries have been afflicted by problems ranging from civil strife and war to adverse weather and economic crisis.
Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals, will be the keynote speaker Monday for the New York celebration of World Habitat Day. The celebration will be at Columbia University, where Mr. Sachs also teaches. We bring this to your attention today because the organizers of UN-HABITAT are providing bus service from the building to the university for any of you who would like to attend, and you can sign up today. It doesn’t say where, but I assume it’s somewhere around our office.
**Press Conference Tomorrow
And tomorrow, immediately following the noon briefing, Anne Veneman, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), will be here to launch the report entitled, “Progress for Children -- A Report Card on Immunization”.
* *** *For information media • not an official record