17 April 2006
Spokesman's Noon Briefing

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

DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL


The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.


Good afternoon.


**Security Council


I’ll start off with the Security Council’s activities for today.


The Security Council is holding consultations this morning.  It began with a briefing by Ambassador Yuli Vorontsov, the Secretary-General’s High-Level Coordinator for the repatriation and return of the Kuwaiti and third-country nationals, or their remains, and of Kuwaiti property from Iraq.


Afterwards, Council members were briefed on the Secretary-General’s latest report on Côte d’Ivoire, by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for that country, Pierre Schori.  Mr. Schori has told us that he will speak to reporters at the stakeout as soon as he’s done with his briefing.


And at 3 p.m. this afternoon, the Council will hold an open meeting on the Middle East.


And also as a reminder today, the Security Council members are holding their monthly luncheon with the Secretary-General.  There will be a TV stakeout at the Delegates Dining Room and the Secretary-General told me he would speak to the press after the lunch.   And that is usually around 2:30.


And we do also expect a statement on the latest -– on the bombing -– the suicide bombing that took place in Tel Aviv this morning.  If we do not have it by the end of this briefing, the Secretary-General himself will address that issue at the stakeout.


** Chad


Turning now to the situation in Chad, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, today reported that the President of Chad had confirmed in a telephone conversation that refugees from Darfur, now in Chad, would not be forcibly returned home, and that Chad will abide by international principles on the treatment of refugees.


Guterres said that President Idriss Deby had also told him of his concerns about the difficulties involved in providing security for refugees and humanitarian organisations that are helping them.


**OCHA - Chad


And also on Chad, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that, despite recent security incidents, food distribution has been completed in five refugee camps.  However, it has been disrupted and postponed in five others.


In the Chadian town of Goz Beida, five to six trucks of internally displaced persons are arriving daily.  The refugees are now sharing their water points with the internally displaced on a rotational basis.  And UNICEF, meanwhile, is working on restoring out-of-service wells in a number of outlying areas.


**Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies


The Secretary-General has approved today the launch of a Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development.


The Alliance’s mission will be to promote the integration of such technology and development through dialogue among a wide variety of stakeholders, including non-governmental participants from developing countries, the media, academia, youth and women’s groups.  The Alliance will hold its inaugural meeting on 19 June in Kuala Lumpur.  And we have a press release available with more information upstairs.


**Capital Master Plan


Just as a note, the Executive Director of the Capital Master Plan, Fritz Reuter, will be heading to Brazil tomorrow to meet with architect Oscar Niemeyer, who, at 94 years old, is the last living architect from a team of twelve that designed the original UN Headquarters building.  Reuter will be talking to Niemeyer about his views on the Capital Master Plan.


**Press Conference


And tomorrow, at 11:15 in this room, the Canadian Mission will be sponsoring a press conference by a group of non-governmental organizations led by the World Federalist Movement, regarding a campaign to encourage the Security Council to take into consideration a number of reforms to enhance the transparency, accountability and effectiveness of the selection process for the Secretary-General.


And that is it for me.  Any questions?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  I have a number of questions from last week that still haven’t been answered.


Spokesman:  Yes, I do expect to have some answers for you this afternoon.


Question:  There’s a report that I saw that the Office of Special Projects in UNDP took out a loan for about $1 billion or so of money from “oil-for-food”, and that it was supposed to be returned.  I just wanted to find out if, in fact, that money was borrowed and returned.


Spokesman:  I can help you look, but you’d have to address that question to UNDP.  But I’ll take a look.  It’s the first I’ve heard of it.


Question:  What about that famous Ackermann report on Mr. Dileep Nair –- is it still being considered?


Spokesman:  You know, having voiced, with misplaced optimism, dates as to when this report will be finalized, I think I’ll just stick to the line that, when there is something new to announce on Mr. Ackermann’s report, on Nair, I will announce it.


Question:  In the wake of the things that happened between Chad and Sudan, I was just wondering if the Secretariat or the Secretary-General was considering sending anyone else to try and diffuse the situation diplomatically, or is everything still being handled by Jan Pronk?


Spokesman:  You know, it’s being handled on a number of levels.  First of all, I have no information on the sending or non-sending of an envoy.  But the Secretary-General himself was working the phones over the weekend.  He was in touch with President Deby, with the Chairman of the African Union, Mr. Konare, as well as President Nguesso, who’s the sitting Head of State also chairing the African Union.  So he’s had conversations over the weekend.  Obviously, he very much welcomes the decision by Mr. Deby to now recommit himself to abiding by international principles on refugees and protecting the refugees within Chad.


However, I think, as recent events in Chad do show, there is clearly a need for a comprehensive solution to Darfur –- to the situation in Darfur –- and to that end, I think the recently announced decision by the Chadian Government to pull out of the Abuja talks is rather disturbing.


Question:  Just to follow-up, any conversation with the Sudanese President El-Bashir or…


Spokesman:  Not the Secretary-General directly, but people in Sudan have met with him.


Question:  But nothing direct?


Spokesman:  No.


Question:  Follow-up on the question on Nair, can we assume from the fact that the investigator has not told the Secretary-General that Nair is exonerated of any wrongdoing, can we assume from that that he might be not exonerated of wrongdoing?


Spokesman:  No, I would not assume anything.


Question:  [Inaudible] doing any work or [inaudible]?


Spokesman:  No, no, he is working, just to –-


Question:  Working full time or is he –-


Spokesman:  He’s working as –-


Question:  Can you find out -–


Spokesman:  He’s working (talkover) -- He’s working as much as he feels he needs to and giving his full energy. 


Question:  Can you find out how many days he worked?  I mean, this report is months, if not more than a year, overdue.  Now, it could be overdue because there are a lot of things to investigate, or it could be overdue because the guy just isn’t doing the work.  So, could you find out for us how many days he’s claimed per diem for working to see -- if he’s only done three days we’ll have a different view of what’s going on if he had done 200 days.


Spokesman:  We’ll see where we stand on this.


Question:  I heard a report to the effect that he didn’t get all he asked for -- [inaudible].


Spokesman:  I think you will to wait for his report to judge on …


Question:  [Inaudible]


Spokesman:  I think you will have to judge –- wait until the report is released.


Question:  I understand that, rather sadly, a UN staff member committed suicide a few days ago.  I was just wondering, was there any UN investigation as to whether –- what might have caused the suicide?


Spokesman:  No, I have no information.  It’s a very sad incident.  Someone who had a lot of friends, who people appreciated very much.  You know, this happened off UN premises.  It’s being handled by the NYPD, and I have no other information. 


Question:  The oil-for-food archive, can you tell us what the status is of that, and whether there’s any agreement now on the access rules to it, in particular the access rules for the press?


Spokesman:  The archives are still in the hands –- well, the paper work is still in the hands of the Office of the IIC, which has been extended, as you know, until the end of the year.  The discussions between the UN and the IIC on how to handle those documents afterwards are continuing.  But as we stand now, the Office has been extended.


Thank you very much.  Yes?


Question:  [Inaudible] hijacked of UN vehicles [inaudible] in Casamance, in Senegal.  Do you have any information?


Spokesman:  No, but I can check that.  It’s the first I’ve heard of it.


Question:  I was just wondering, if in fact the question about the money going from oil-for-food to this special projects for UNDP, if I was to ask the IIC, they would also have an answer for me, right?


Spokesman:  You know, (talkover), you can ask the IIC.  We can check with UNDP.  It’s the first I’ve heard of this, so we can work together.


Thank you.


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For information media • not an official record