3 August 2011
Spokesperson's Noon Briefing

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

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General


The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.


Good afternoon, everybody, and welcome to the briefing.


**Security Council


This morning the Security Council held closed consultations on the Middle East, in which they discussed Syria.  Council members decided to hold a formal meeting at 3 this afternoon.  As the Secretary-General made clear in recent remarks to reporters and, as I mentioned yesterday, he is encouraged that the Security Council is taking up the situation in Syria.


**Horn of Africa


The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the appeal for the Horn of Africa is still only 44 per cent funded and that an additional $1.4 billion is still required to respond to the crisis.


As you know, last Friday, the Office revised the number of people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance to 12.4 million — identifying an additional 800,000 people in need.  But since then, funding commitments have only risen by 4 per cent.


At Kenya’s Dadaab camps, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says that arrivals for July topped 40,000 people.  That’s the highest monthly rate in the camp’s 20-year history.  UNHCR also says that a mass screening for malnutrition conducted in two of the camps of the Dadaab complex in July revealed alarmingly high rates of acute malnutrition and that the under-5 mortality rate is on the increase.


The agency has now transferred more than 10,500 recent Somali arrivals to Dadaab’s Ifo camp extension in an ongoing relocation operation.  UNHCR has airlifted thousands of tents to Kenya for the Dadaab population but says it needs an additional 45,000 tents for the new arrivals.  The agency is also concerned about Dadaab’s water resources.


**Press Conference Tomorrow


And finally, at tomorrow’s noon briefing, I will have as my guest Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.


** Somalia


In Somalia, the Humanitarian Coordinator, Mark Bowden, informed us that three additional areas have slipped into famine.  These are the Afgoye corridor, the capital, Mogadishu, and Middle Shabelle.


Bowden says that this confirms the UN’s concern about the increasing severity of the situation facing Somalia.  And it also underscores the urgency of scaling up our actions.  This latest information also confirms the seriousness of the problem facing internally displaced people in Mogadishu, who require our immediate and concerted response.  The declaration of famine in the capital reflects the massive influx of people into the city in the last two months.


That’s what I have.  I am happy to take questions.  Any questions?  Yes?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Hi.  I know I asked this earlier, but I need to get this on camera.  But could you please comment on, there was a cyber-attack reported by a major Internet security firm, and I understand that the United Nations has been advised of that.  Can you tell me what the United Nations is doing, and what it’s been told?


Spokesperson:  We’re certainly aware of the reports.  We’ve seen the 14-page report and obviously are informed about its contents.  The UN Office in Geneva immediately started a fact-finding exercise to ascertain whether the alleged intrusion can be confirmed or not.  And to this end, the network logs from September 2008 up to December 2010 are being analysed.  And it is expected that that the analysis will take several days to complete.  That’s what I have for you at this point.  Yes, Erol?


Question:  Martin, just to check this with you, I know it’s a Security Council matter, but anyhow, do you hear… do you know whether the Security Council meeting on Kosovo will be moved from the 24th in advance for the 5th, even for this Friday?  And to that respect, is the Secretary-General’s report ready for this, the meeting?


Spokesperson:  As I recall, the President of the Security Council addressed this quite clearly yesterday, and I don’t have anything different to report at this point.


Question:  What about Secretary-General’s report?  Is he, it is ready or… or it still being worked on?


Spokesperson:  As I said, I don’t have anything beyond what we’ve said; namely that the Security Council President mentioned yesterday, in his briefing on the contents of the programme of work for this month, what the date would be.  And if that date changes, then I am sure we’ll be informed and would take appropriate action.  Yes, Iftikhar?


Question:  Martin, there is a report that United Nations files, computer files in Geneva, had been hacked and a lot of material removed.  Do you have anything on that?


Spokesperson:  Well, Iftikhar, I was just asked about that a second ago.  We’re certainly aware of the reports, and as I just mentioned to Anita when she asked me, the UN Office in Geneva has started a fact-finding exercise immediately having learned of this impending report, and to look into this alleged intrusion to see whether it could be confirmed or not.  But I think that you will hear the rest of what I have said if you go back to the webcast.  Yes, Matthew?


Question:  Sure, I have one question about Sudan.  First, I wanted to… the Foreign Minister of Sudan, Ali Karti, has Tuesday evening put out a statement saying that they’re considering throwing UNAMID [Joint United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur] out… that they don’t… I understand part of it has to do with the Security Council resolution; in any event the Government has made this threat that the UN-African Union peacekeeping mission is now going to be under its mandate, that they will only live by the old Status of Forces Agreement, and I am just wondering, what does the UN say about this host country comments against one of its largest peacekeeping missions?


Spokesperson:  Well, it’s important to recognize that it’s a joint peacekeeping operation, along with the African Union.  And it is indeed a major peacekeeping operation.  That’s the first point.  The second is that it may be that you will get a more definitive, and certainly more expert, answer from Mr. Le Roy tomorrow when he briefs you.  What I can say for now is that we are aware of the reports.  The mission is a Security Council-mandated mission, and it is there to carry out the mandate given to it by the Security Council.


Question:  Relatedly, you… does the UN, UNISFA [United Nations Interim Security Force in Abyei] – the mission in Abyei — does it… has it reached any kind of Status of Forces Agreement with the Sudanese Government?


Spokesperson:  I would need to check on the precise technicalities there.  But I can tell you that the deployment has been continuing.  Already there are more than 1,000 troops in the area.  As you know, there was an extremely serious incident yesterday, and I would also anticipate that we’d have more to say on that in the coming days.


Question:  I just wanted… thanks a lot, just because it’s sort of related, you said there are a thousand, now, peacekeepers in Abyei…


Spokesperson:  More than a thousand.


Question:  More than a thousand, okay.  Is it known now or can you, after various questions, say how many peacekeepers are still in Southern Kordofan?


Spokesperson:  Again, I would need to check on that.  I know you’ve asked repeatedly, and as have I, but I don’t have the answer for you at this point.


Yeah, I just have one other note that’s been handed to me.


[Reads note on Somalia, above.]


So, further questions, please?  Yes?


Question:  A publication on Russian media has said that a group of hackers hacked the UN’s database and they got hold of very sensitive information.  Do you confirm this news?


Spokesperson:  I have a really strange feeling of déjà vu today.  This is the third time I have answered the same question [laughter], which I don’t say with pleasure, but certainly to help you:  The UN Office in Geneva has started a fact-finding exercise to find out whether this alleged intrusion can be confirmed or not.  And our colleagues there are analysing the network logs from September 2008 up to December 2010.  And that analysis is expected take several days to complete.  Okay, pleasure.  Yeah, other questions?  Different questions? [laughter]


Question:  Sure, I want to ask you about Cyprus and Cambodia.  In Cyprus, the… the… the Democratic Party or DIKO has broken with the Government of [Dimitris Christofias], and I just wonder since, given the UN’s role in trying to broker these talks, does… is there any response to that?  What’s the UN’s sort of plan for what is seen as a big setback to whatever momentum existed in that process?


Spokesperson:  Well, first of all, the talks are continuing, and have been this week.  So the momentum is there and continues.  We’re certainly aware of this report on the coalition and if I have anything further, then I’d let you know.


Question:  Okay.  And I wanted to, I know that we’ve discussed before the tribunal in Cambodia, the Extraordinary Chambers, and I know there was a long statement either from you or the Secretary-General, you on behalf of the Secretary-General saying that there is no politicization at the UN.  Now, a cable has come out from the… the UN Embassy in Phnom Penh, naming specific…


Spokesperson:  Which Embassy?


Question:  Sorry, the US, US Embassy in Phnom Penh.  It’s a WikiLeaks cable.  And it quotes by name UN officials, talking about removing a case called 003 from the case… [clearing throat] this is considered the most controversial…


Spokesperson:  Would you like a glass of water?  I’ve got three glasses here.


Question:  I’m okay.  I think I’ll struggle through, hang on.  [clearing throat]  So, the idea, I guess the idea is that… I understand there is a general principle of not commenting on WikiLeak cables, I guess just because they are WikiLeaks, but this seems to run very contrary to what’s being said about the UN not being involved in any politicization or siding with the Government that the court should be shut down or controversial cases coming up.  So, I wonder, is there going to be a new… is there going to be some response to… is the US Embassy in Phnom Penh wrong that the UN was wanting to remove this case or is it just going to be parallel universes, WikiLeaks and the official version?


Spokesperson:  You are absolutely right, we wouldn’t comment on leaks, purportedly leaked cables.  And the statement that was made or the material that we had on that topic; that still stands.  And that’s all we have to say.


Okay, other questions?  Okay, have a good afternoon; thank you.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record