|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.
**SG - Migration Report
The Secretary-General will be launching his report on international migration and development in the General Assembly at 4 p.m. And that, of course, is an open meeting, which you will be able to watch.
We have embargoed copies of the report available upstairs. You were briefed at length about it a short while ago. And, we also have embargoed copies of the Secretary-General’s address available upstairs in the Office.
**Security Council - Mission to Sudan and Chad
The Security Council’s mission to Sudan and Chad, led by British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, began its first day with a briefing by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Jan Pronk, as well as his deputies at the UN Mission in Khartoum.
The 15 members of the Council delegation then met with President Omar al-Bashir and other senior Sudanese Government leaders, as well as members of the Sudanese Parliament. Council members also met with a group of non-governmental organizations. They are about to meet with opposition party leaders shortly.
And, a short while ago, Ambassador Jones Parry talked to reporters at a press conference, during which he said the mission was there to listen to the Government of Sudan, and all the parties, on how the United Nations, and specifically the Security Council, can support the African Union and assist the people of Sudan and Darfur.
The transcript of the press conference is currently being worked on and will be made available to you.
And, for those who were asking yesterday, the list of delegation members, as well as the term of reference of the mission, are all out as a document and up on the racks.
**UNHCR - Eastern Chad
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is extremely concerned about the continuing attacks by Janjaweed militia in Eastern Chad.
The UN refugee agency said the potential for more internal displacement of local Chadians has increased in the wake of last Saturday’s raid by armed militiamen on a village in the Goz Beida region of Eastern Chad.
No casualties were reported, but UNHCR said that attacks by the Janjaweed militias against Chadians appear to have become more systematic and deadly. In addition, some 213,000 Sudanese refugees from Darfur are living in camps in the border region.
UNHRC reports an estimated 50,000 displaced people in eastern Chad have now fled their homes in recent months following dozens of attacks by Janjaweed.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, François Lonseny Fall, today noted the reconciliatory statements from the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs), and he said that members of the international community encourage a similar approach from the Union of Islamic Courts and other parties in Mogadishu.
We issued a statement yesterday afternoon saying the Secretary-General continues to be concerned about the violence in Mogadishu and its surroundings, and appeals to all sides to stop the fighting and enter into negotiations.
The Secretary-General stressed that all parties to the conflict should resolve their differences and address outstanding issues in accordance with the Transitional Federal Charter of Somalia.
And, meanwhile, on the humanitarian front, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, says it is concerned that the fighting in Mogadishu is delaying polio and measles vaccination campaigns and aggravating an existing humanitarian emergency in the southern part of the country.
OCHA also points out that the supply of imported food has been disrupted by the ongoing conflict, resulting in 20 to 30 per cent price increases.
The World Food Programme maintains an office in Mogadishu, which is staffed by Somali nationals. And, because of the recent fighting, WFP has provided food upon request for patients in one of the largest hospitals in the Mogadishu.
The Security Council today held consultations on the UN Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights, known as UNDOF, and received a briefing on that Mission from Lisa Buttenheim, the Director of the Asia and Middle East Division of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
Council members also received copies of a draft resolution and draft statement concerning the extension of that Mission’s mandate.
And from Timor-Leste, UNHCR’s emergency airlift of lightweight family tents, plastic sheets and jerrycans for some 30,000 displaced people in Timor-Leste is now well under way, with the first flight having landed in Dili yesterday. A second flight will be leaving from Jordan later today.
And, in coordination with other UN agencies, UNHCR will use the newly arrived supplies to ease congestion among the more crowded spontaneous sites that have sprung up in Dili.
And, we do have more information upstairs.
**Outer Space Committee
A couple of items to flag for you -- The UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space will be holding its forty-ninth session in Vienna, from the 7th to the 16th of June. The Committee’s 49th session is expected to cover issues relating to space and water, space and education, as well as the recommendations of the World Summit on the Information Society.
The Committee will also be discussing issues including space-based systems for disaster management support, the use of nuclear power sources in outer space, and the practice of States and international organizations in registering space objects. And, we do expect to have updates from them, regularly.
**UN Population Award
The winners of this year’s United Nations Population Award will receive their medals in a ceremony tomorrow, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. That will take place in the Trusteeship Council Chamber.
The two winners of the 2006 Population Award are Dr. Halida Hanum Akhter, the Director-General of the Family Planning Association of Bangladesh, and a Haitian organization known by its acronym, FOSREF, which is a private NGO devoted to reproductive health and the promotion of family life in Haiti.
The UN Population Fund has more details about these two organizations in a press release.
And, finally, as we work towards the start of the World Cup on Friday, the Secretary-General, in a joint message with Joseph Blatter, the President of FIFA welcomed the opening of the World Cup, saying “football is a global language”, which can bridge social, cultural and religious divides.
That is why the UN is using football as a tool in its work to reach the Millennium Development Goals, and it is also why the United Nations is turning to football in its effort to heal the emotional wounds of war among young people in refugee camps, and in countries recovering from armed conflict.
Over the next few weeks, as billions of people focus on the World Cup, the Secretary-General and FIFA appeal to players and fans everywhere to harness the magic of football to their quest for development and peace.
And, we do have that message available upstairs. And, that is it for me. Any questions? Masood?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Steph, today the Vice-President of Iraq, Tariq al-Hashemi has called, wants the United Nations to conduct an inquiry into the killings of the Iraqi civilians at the hands of the Multinational Force, and also to look at all kinds of allegations against the Americans who were supposedly killed, and these civilians, in a premeditated way. Do you have any response to that?
Spokesman: I am not aware that we have received any official response. As I think I said to you yesterday, we very much look forward to the investigation that’s currently being done by the Multinational Force into the events in Haditha. The UN in Baghdad has had an ongoing dialogue with both the Iraqi Government and the MNF about the need for security forces to respect international human rights and international humanitarian law in their operations.
Question: But the question is, how are you going to respond because I think…
Spokesman: We would have to wait and receive a request before we could figure out how to respond.
Question: Mr. Spokesman, yesterday, apparently the parliament in Belgrade of Serbia decided to recognize the results of the election of Montenegro for independence. And, it also decided, according to the news reports, to succeed all the rights of the former States of Serbia and Montenegro. Now, I wonder how that would play here on the ground? What about the flag? Did you raise the flag this morning of Serbia and Montenegro, and whether you are preparing, or you prepared yourself with the protocol changes and developments?
Spokesman: The membership of the UN did not change overnight. We’re still at 191, so the same flags you saw yesterday, you should see today. As I’ve said before, the issue of membership and how a country applies for membership is dealt with by the Member States. We have put together for you a fact sheet upstairs on exactly what the procedure is for membership, and, obviously, once a country is accepted by the Member States, we will make the necessary changes here, in terms of flags and all these other things.
Question: The question now, did you have a chance to pick up some of the comments of the Secretary-General of the possibility that the former Yugoslavia will produce yet another State and continue to supply you with new independent States here in the near future?
Spokesman: As I said, the issue of membership is one that is decided upon by the Member States. And, we really have no further comment at this point. Yes, Jonathan?
Question: Stephane, the SEC is now investigating one of the companies that was involved in the purchase of the United Nations stamps archive for wrongdoing. The question I have is, has the UN been contacted by the SEC? Where do things stand in terms of the UN’s participation in such an investigation?
Spokesman: As far as I know, we have not been contacted by the Securities and Exchange Commission. We can check if we have, and I’ll let you know. As you know, the head of the Management Department, Chris Burnham, a while ago, had ordered an audit by the OIOS to be conducted into the sale of the UN stamp archives. That audit, as far as I understand, is about to be finalized by OIOS. So, that’s where we stand on our own internal look into the situation. And, I’ll see if we’ve been contacted by the SEC.
Question: If the SEC indeed has contacted the UN, or intends to do it, which body would be the contact point? Where would that fall -- within Chris Burnham’s offices? Would that be an OIOS thing?
Spokesman: I think I would rather not speculate. Let’s get the request. Usually, these requests should come through the US Mission and are directed to the Secretary-General, who then sends them to the appropriate person, depending on the request.
Question: And you still don’t have a date as to when Mr. Burnham’s investigation…
Spokesman: No, OIOS is finalizing the audit, which it did at the request of Mr. Burnham, and it should not be that long. And, once the audit is final, it is made available to Member States upon request.
Question: I have a few questions. First, I understand the United Nations is investigating the death of Mark Bourque, the Canadian who was part of the peacekeeping Mission in Haiti. He was shot dead in Cite Soleil. I am wondering, where is the investigation at right now? When will the Government of Canada find out the results of this investigation? And, when will the family hear back the conclusions?
Spokesman: Unfortunately, I don’t know off the top of my head, but I’m happy to find out right after the briefing.
Question: Second question. There’s a Canadian magazine that has been looking at this case, and they’ve discovered some disturbing things. For example, after Bourque was shot, the Jordanian peacekeepers wearing the UN helmets, surrounded his body and took photos with him in a pool of blood. What’s your response to that?
Spokesman: I haven’t seen the pictures. Obviously, if they have anything related to the investigation, they should probably forward it to the UN. But, I have not seen the magazine.
Question: On Somalia, the statement that’s upstairs from Mr. Lonseny Fall, I’m sorry to have to ask, but it says that he welcomed the reconciliatory statements from the Transitional Federal Institutions and encourages a similar approach from the Islamic Courts. It’s reported basically that the warlords, the Alliance Against Terror, were thrown off, thrown out of the Transitional Government. I’m sorry to have to ask, but what statements is he referring to? What does this mean, I guess?
Spokesman: What it means is that, as far as the UN is concerned, and the international community, is that the focus needs to be on the support for the Transitional Federal Institutions. As to exactly what statement he was referring to, we can check afterwards.
Question: So, would it be fair to say, he’s saying that the Islamic courts need to work with, and sort of submit to, the Transitional Government, or acknowledge…
Spokesman: All parties involved in the situation in Somalia need to work with the Transitional Federal Institutions.
Question: And, just one, on the peacekeepers in Ituri, is there any update, whatsoever?
Spokesman: No, there isn’t, unfortunately.
Question: I wanted to ask you -– this is an informational question -- what is the subject of the meeting between the Secretary-General and Ambassador Bolton today at 11:40?
Spokesman: We’ll try to get you a read out after the meeting.
[The Spokesman later announced that the meeting had touched upon a number of areas on the current UN agenda, including Darfur, Somalia and UN reform.]
Question: And, the second question -– is there going to be any involvement of the IAEA in the incentives proposed to Iran by the P-5 members, and have you come across the proposal?
Spokesman: No, we have not come across the proposal. As I said, the package was drawn up by those countries, and not by the IAEA.
Question: But, are they going to be involved at all in the discussions?
Spokesman: I think we’re kind of getting ahead of ourselves right now. The package was just presented to the Iranians, and that’s where we are at this point.
Question: On, I just wanted to know, on Mr. Pronk when he was here, was the issue of his blocking the OIOS inquiry, was that his own?
Spokesman: My understanding is that the outstanding issues between Mr. Pronk and OIOS were resolved in a way that allowed auditors to do their job as needed in the field mission. So, we’re very pleased about that.
Question: On a lighter note, do you have your own favourite in the soccer world championship?
Spokesman: We’re all winners. [Laughter]
* *** *For information media • not an official record