|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Daily Press Briefing by the Offices of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Jean Victor Nkolo, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.
Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
Just to flag a press conference a little bit later here at 1 p.m., the Department of Economic and Social Affairs will be holding a press conference with representatives from Liberia, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, about the 2010 World Programme on Population and Housing Census.
The President of the Security Council, Ambassador Gérard Araud of France, just read out a press statement on Sudan, saying that Council members welcomed the framework agreement for the resolution of the Darfur conflict that was signed in Doha. Council members called on the parties to quickly implement the agreement in full.
** Haiti - American Idol
And just a quick announcement that the United States television show American Idol last week travelled to Haiti with the UN Foundation to raise further awareness of the country’s post-earthquake needs. And footage of this trip will be on the show that airs tonight and viewers will be asked to support the efforts in Haiti by donating funds online and via text messaging. Proceeds will go to the Idol Gives Back Foundation to help the UN Foundation's work.
**Secretary-General’s remarks to Decolonization Committee
The Special Committee of 24 on decolonization is meeting at UN Headquarters today, and in a message to the gathering, the Secretary-General calls for creative solutions for the remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories. He says that if the United Nations is to fulfil its obligations in supporting the legitimate aspirations of the peoples of these Territories, a pragmatic and realistic approach is most likely to lead to concrete results. And we have copies of the message available in my office.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has issued a survey in which it says that one out of every three people in Yemen is struggling to gain access to food -- making Yemen one of the countries worst affected by hunger in the world.
The WFP survey finds that 12 per cent of the population suffers from severe food insecurity and that 1 in every 10 children in Yemen is acutely malnourished. And also, a quarter of all women of child-bearing age are malnourished.
Yemen has been faced with a series of humanitarian challenges, including conflict in its north, an influx of refugees from the Horn of Africa and an increase in the poverty rate. WFP is currently providing food assistance to 1.5 million people in Yemen every month, including a quarter of a million people displaced by the fighting in the north.
In Mongolia, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is launching a cash-for-work programme in response to the winter crisis where more than 2.7 million livestock have died so far from the cold. The programme will pay herders, whose livelihoods have disappeared due to extreme weather conditions, to clean and bury the carcasses of livestock to prevent the spread of disease.
So, that’s what I have for you. And you will also have after me Jean Victor [Nkolo], who is here to brief as well. So, yes, please.
**Questions and Answers
Question: Yes, Martin, yesterday, one of my colleagues asked Mr. [Anthony] Banbury, who is the Deputy Special Representative in Haiti, about three women who had been raped in camps, and it was according to a report from Human Rights Watch. Mr. Banbury seemed to think that three was not that many, and that rape occurred all over the world, and especially in New York. So what I would like to know is: to which number does he think that he could do something or act or react? How many does he need, if I may ask?
Spokesperson: You may. But I am not here to speak on behalf of Tony Banbury. Tony Banbury is in the air on his way to Haiti, and I can tell you that we will have something from him for you later in the day.
Question: Yesterday you read a statement of the Secretary-General welcoming the agreement between the Government of Sudan and JEM [Justice and Equality Movement]. There are now these reports of renewed fighting in Darfur between the Government and the SLA [Sudanese Liberation Army] rebel group, including a city of 50,000 that got bombed, and MSF [Médecins sans Frontières] have stopped its operations and pulled out. First, is UNAMID [the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] aware and what is it doing on its protection of civilians mandate there? And is there amplification of your welcoming of the peace agreement, given that the bombs fell the day after it was signed?
Spokesperson: Well, first of all, I will need to check again with the Mission on what the latest is that they have. But certainly, we are aware, and the mission is aware, as you are, of the reports of fighting soon after this ceasefire was signed in Doha. So, that’s the first point. The second is that clearly when you have a ceasefire agreement that’s signed at a political level, the effects on the ground, the implementation of that then becomes absolutely crucial. And so we need to keep a very close eye on that. I’m sure the mission is, and I’ll come back to you when I have more information to give you on that.
Question: I also wanted to ask, there were some reports yesterday that in Haiti, aid that until now has been coming through the airport -- it arrives, then it gets distributed to aid groups to be given out -- has now been stopped by the Government with the idea of imposing taxes or customs or duties, turning to a sort of non-emergency phase, but including on aid goods. Is that something that, given the UN’s role in the airport, does it have any thoughts on whether people’s contributions for aid to Haiti should in fact be taxed or have customs imposed on them?
Spokesperson: I have also seen that report from CNN, Matthew, and so has the Mission in Haiti, and they’re looking into it.
Question: But they’re looking into with an eye to what, if in fact taxes are being imposed on aid, is that wrong?
Spokesperson: They’re looking into it.
Question: India has said that it’s put forward a candidate to replace Mr. [Yvo] de Boer on the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change]. It’s named the individual, and said that it has the support of China and other BRIC nations. I just wondered, first, can you confirm that names have been received by the Secretary-General for that post? How many names and what’s the process for selection?
Spokesperson: I can’t confirm whether specific names have been given or not. Clearly, there is a process that’s under way. This is an appointment that is indeed made by the Secretary-General in consultation with the Board of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. There is still a way to go in that selection process, and I don’t want to get into details here.
Question: The one thing I would like to ask; has he written to Member States saying the process is open, you can nominate people, or is this just done, Member States are supposed to understand that’s how it works?
Spokesperson: Well, Member States clearly do understand what’s required. But I think it has been communicated to them.
Question: Does the…
Spokesperson: Everybody has kind of woken up again!
Question: Does the Secretary-General have any sort of statement on the departure of John Holmes, who has announced that he was going to be leaving in September?
Spokesperson: No, not a statement. I think that would be going too far. But he’s clearly aware. I am going through my stuff here to find the right piece of paper. John Holmes informed the Secretary-General some time ago that he had accepted the post of director of the Ditchley Foundation, in the United Kingdom, as from 1 September. But obviously, Mr. Holmes will remain in his present post until the end of August, and he will be concentrating on the many humanitarian crises around the world in the six months that we have until then. And no successor has been yet been appointed, and the change of course is still some months away. So we have time. Okay.
All right, thank you very much.
Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President
Good afternoon, and welcome to our visitors.
First, on the Goldstone Report, the President of the General Assembly, H.E. Dr. Ali Abdussalam Treki, will convene a plenary meeting of the General Assembly tomorrow, 26 February, as requested by Member States. This follows the submission by the United Nations Secretary-General of his report A/64/651 on the follow-up to resolution 64/10 pertaining to the Goldstone Report. The draft resolution A/64/L.48 is out.
That’s what I have for you today.
**Questions and Answers
Question: I missed it if you said what time this was going to take place, and could you also tell us the format? Is there going to be a vote? Are there going to speeches? What’s the president expecting?
Spokesperson: It is a plenary meeting of the General Assembly in accordance with the relevant rules of a plenary. It will be in the morning, and so far it is too early to say if there is going to be a list of speakers or what’s going to take place. It will depend very much on how the draft resolution is dealt with. Yes, Matthew.
Question: I just wanted, I mean, I anticipated this coming. Has there been… A couple of days ago you were asked whether the President, Ali Treki, is on this Swiss list sent to other countries on the Schengen Agreement to not travel. I am assuming that you’ve made some inquiries. Is… Is… Have you found… Have you… The Italian Foreign Minister has been quoted as saying he is on the list, and that it is wrong. What… Have you… Have you been able to confirm that or not?
Spokesperson: Well, I’m fully aware of the statement made by H.E. Dr. Frattini, but I don’t speak for him. And so far, I still haven’t seen a list drawn by the Swiss, if there is a list. So, I really cannot comment. That will be far too speculative. There has been no list that I have seen so far. So, I really cannot go beyond that.
Thank you. Keep warm, and good afternoon.
* *** *For information media • not an official record