6 March 2012
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 Eduardo del Buey, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.


Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Matthew and Eduardo Show!  I guess we are the only ones here!  Welcome to the Noon Briefing.


**Security Council


This morning the Security Council met on Sudan and South Sudan and issued a statement, which is available in our office.  The Council then met in consultations to discuss Haiti and was briefed by Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe.


**South Sudan


I was asked yesterday about recent fighting in Jonglei state, South Sudan.  The UN Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, confirms that fighting between the Lou Nuer and Murle youth took place in Nyirol County, Jonglei State over the weekend.  The number of casualties has not yet been confirmed.  The Mission has sent patrols to the reported location in an effort to determine the causes of the clashes and the number of casualties.


** Sudan


The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, says that renewed clashes in the disputed border areas between Sudan and South Sudan has triggered more displacement to South Sudan’s Upper Nile state and western Ethiopia.  The agency says that it has registered 2,287 new arrivals in two refugee sites in Upper Nile last week, bringing to more than 80,000 the total number of registered refugees in this region.


In western Ethiopia, UNHCR also reports a steady flow of new arrivals, mainly from Blue Nile state.  The agency is working to establish a third camp to accommodate the growing number of Sudanese refugees crossing to Ethiopia.  The new camp should be completed later this month and will be able to house 20,000 people.


** Democratic Republic of the Congo


UNHCR also says it’s very concerned at the recent displacement of several thousand people in Orientale province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The displacement follows renewed attacks by the Lord's Resistance Army, or LRA.  After a lull in the second half of last year, there have been 20 new attacks since January causing 3,000 people to flee.  One person was killed and 17 abducted during these violent incidents.


Most of the displaced people moved towards Dungu, the main town of the Haut Uele district, and to settlements for internally displaced people in the area.  UNHCR describes the conditions the internally displaced persons are living in as harsh.  It has recently distributed basic emergency items to some 200 newly displaced people.  The World Food Programme has distributed food while NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have provided medical care and agricultural tools.


**Water


The world has met the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water, well in advance of the 2015 deadline, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).


At the end of 2010, 89 per cent of the world’s population, or 6.1 billion people, used improved drinking water sources.  This is 1 per cent more than the 88 per cent MDG target.  The report estimates that, by 2015, 92 per cent of the global population will have access to improved drinking water.  There is more information available online.


**Women’s Empowerment


This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at an event with the theme “Gender Equality for Sustainable Business”.  He said that empowerment and sustainable development have been and will remain his top priorities for his second term.


The Secretary-General said that we cannot achieve sustainability — at a corporate or a global level — without empowering women.  We must do more to remove the barriers women face to participating fully in the economy, such as lack of access to jobs, markets, credit and property.  He said that the Women’s Empowerment Principles provide guidance on how to do this.  These Principles, launched by the Secretary-General two years ago, outline steps for businesses on how to empower women in the workplace, the marketplace and the communities where business operates.  As of today, 400 chief executives have publicly declared their commitment to implementing the Principles.  The full text of the Secretary-General’s statement is online.


That’s it from me.  Questions?  Matthew?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Sure, Eduardo.  I want, yeah, I am just coming from the Security Council where the Permanent Representatives of Sudan and South Sudan said things inside the Council then afterwards at the stakeout that I feel a need to ask you about.  Maybe you can get, maybe UNMISS [United Nations Mission in South Sudan] has some answers.  Basically, on this bombing on, in, that South Sudan has said in Unity State their oil wells were bombed by Sudan.  Sudan denies it, South Sudan maintains it, and since it is in a territory in which there is a peacekeeping mission, I wonder what steps has the UN taken to, you know, confirm or deny this major development.


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the Mission is aware of this allegation and will be looking into it.


Question:  Okay, it seemed, I mean, how long, have they, are they sending somebody out there, because it just seems to be a factual dispute between and there is a big UN presence there, so it doesn’t seem that…


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, we’ll have to check and see, Matthew.


Question:  Okay, all right.  The other one is, I just, and just on the off chance that you have something on this; there seem to be a, they both spoke about, as a sort of a root of the conflict, this oil transfer fee and the idea that South Sudan stopped pumping oil because they claim that Sudan is asking for $36.00 a barrel and they want to pay 69 cents, which they say is in keeping with other practice.  I heard Valerie Amos say that South Sudan should keep pumping oil.  She said that at the stakeout.  What is the UN, what’s the UN’s view on this, this thing that can have humanitarian and other consequences?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, in her comments in Nairobi, Hilde Johnson, the Head of UNMISS, said it is critical that the two countries — Sudan and South Sudan — continue the negotiations and do their utmost to reach an agreement on oil and other remaining issues that can foster the viability of both nations and protect the interests of the people of both countries.


Question:  Okay.  All right, that’s great.  And then, I am assuming, you may have something or maybe a little bit later today; there has been an announcement from Benghazi in Libya of the proposal of a semi-autonomous state in eastern Libya called Barqa.  And I am wondering, since there is a mission there, UNSMIL, that is supposed to be dealing with the political process, what do they think about that proposal?  What is, what are they, do they discourage it, or are they trying to address it?  What’s the, what’s response from the UN?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, UNSMIL is working the Libyan transitional national Government in the ways that the transitional national Government feels most appropriate.  I don’t think it is UNSMIL who is going to take any decisions.  I think that the proposal has been made; the transition national Government is going to have to factor that into their thinking and they are going to have to see how they handle it.


Question:  Okay, because essentially some are saying this would lead to a division of the country, and I am just wondering is that…


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, we are not going to get into hypothetical.  I mean, the situation is that the Government is there to deal with such matters and to deal with such negotiations.  Time for one more question.


Question:  Okay, let me ask a very factual question; in light of this five year rule enunciated by the Secretary-General, I have been told that Thomas Stelzer was on Monday given a one year extension and just that, that’s just a factual question, I would like to know if that is the case, and if so, how does it relate to the five year rule?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I’ll have to check into that, Matthew, I don’t have anything on Mr. Stelzer.


[The Spokesperson later said that Mr. Stelzer's contract was extended until March 2013.  He added that this extension will represent his fifth year as Assistant Secretary-General.]


Question:  If you get an answer you can e-mail it to me rather than insert it, it would be…


Deputy Spokesperson:  Thank you, sir, have a good afternoon.


Question:  …very…


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For information media • not an official record