|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 noon briefing.
The Security Council approved its programme of work for May this morning, in its first consultations under the Council presidency of Azerbaijan.
The Council then went into a formal meeting in which it unanimously approved a resolution deciding that Sudan and South Sudan shall unconditionally resume negotiations under the auspices of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel.
The Security Council added that Sudan and South Sudan should, among other things, immediately cease all hostilities, including aerial bombardments, within 48 hours; unconditionally withdraw all of their armed forces to their side of the border, in accordance with previously adopted agreements; and cease the harbouring of, or support to, rebel groups against the other State.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemns in the strongest terms the car bomb and suicide attack that killed eight civilians in Kabul, including women and two children, and wounded 11 others.
These attacks took place less than 200 meters from a school, and the UN Mission stresses that such attacks are unacceptable. The Mission offers its condolences to the families of those killed, and it also commends the rapid response of the Afghan National Security Forces that quickly contained the incident.
An international conference on Afghan refugees opened in Geneva today with a call by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, for the global community to throw its full weight behind a new “solutions strategy” drawn up between Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the UN refugee agency.
The strategy, which is being presented at the two-day conference for endorsement, aims both at preserving asylum space for Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries over the coming three years and beyond, and at supporting sustainable reintegration for those Afghans who return home.
The UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has welcomed the agreement reached on 30 April, by which the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will facilitate voting in Kosovo for the Serbian parliamentary and presidential elections. Those elections will be held this Sunday.
The UN Mission calls upon those concerned authorities, as well as the general public, to extend full cooperation to the OSCE Mission in Kosovo and to ensure that those exercising their right to vote do so in conditions of safety and security.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) confirmed today that following outbreaks of a new strain of foot-and-mouth disease in Egypt and Libya, the virus has reached neighbouring Gaza Strip and could soon spread across the Middle East and North Africa.
According to FAO, local animals do not have any acquired resistance to the so-called SAT2 variant. With vaccines against the novel virus still in short supply, the priority at the moment is to limit animal movements to prevent its further spread. Heightened surveillance of animal populations to quickly detect and respond to new outbreaks is also critical.
The Gaza Strip will be receiving an initial lot of 20,000 vaccine doses to protect its valuable cattle. An additional 40,000 doses will be made available as soon as possible for sheep and goats.
Under the theme “Mainstreaming organic agriculture into the African development agenda”, the second African Organic Conference, jointly organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the African Union, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), opened today in Lusaka, Zambia.
The UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General, Petko Draganov, told the opening session that “organic agriculture can offer an impressive array of food security, economic, environmental, and health benefits for developing countries, including in Africa.” And it can have an important role in achieving sustainable and inclusive development. More details are available online.
**Press Conferences Today
And today at 1 p.m., here in the Auditorium, there will be a press conference to launch a report entitled “Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth". Speakers will include Ambassador Li Baodong, Permanent Representative of the People's Republic of China, and Dr. Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).
That’s it from me. Questions, please? Sylvian?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Thank you, Eduardo. Do you have any reaction on, or concern, Secretary-General’s concern on the building of the wall on the Lebanese-Israeli border south of Lebanon?
Deputy Spokesperson: No, we have no comment to make on that. That is on Israeli territory, and it has been done in accordance with the United Nations and with the Lebanese there; they were all fully informed of what is going on.
Question: So there is no violation?
Deputy Spokesperson: To the best of our knowledge, there is no violation, no.
Question: No violation?
Deputy Spokesperson: No violation at all, no. Matthew?
Question: [inaudible] I, I hope I didn’t… you may have had some comment on… on the Afghanistan [inaudible] yesterday, President Obama went and signed a… he signed an agreement with Hamid Karzai. I understand you’d said that’s a bilateral thing, but it seems to… I mean, since the UN has a mission there, does it have any comment on this pretty high-profile agreement and it didn’t seem like the UN was even really mentioned much in the agreement. What’s the UN’s role going to be in the next ten years in Afghanistan?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, the UN has been involved in Afghanistan for many years and will continue to be involved in Afghanistan for many years working on issues such as institution-building, education, women’s rights, health and all the other aspects of United Nations work. The agreement between the United States and Afghanistan is a bilateral agreement and we don’t have anything to say on it.
Question: It seems to touch on many of the same issues, that’s why I am wondering, was there any conversation [inaudible]?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, it may touch on the same issues, but it is a bilateral agreement between the United States and Afghanistan. Anything else?
Question: When will the Secretary-General will be back to New York?
Deputy Spokesperson: He just arrived an hour ago.
Question: So do we have to expect a press conference pretty soon?
Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t know, we’ll have to see; I don’t have any information on a press conference yet.
Correspondent: Okay, thank you.
Question: Just, just, perhaps before this other question, were you able to get, even though he has been travelling or just arrived back, the issue of like the businesses that he was referring to when he introduced the Global Compact in Myanmar. I’d say, he… his speech definitely says the businesses here is referring to particular businesses.
Deputy Spokesperson: Yeah, we’ll get that for you.
Question: Okay, great. And the other thing I wanted to ask, since MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] is out there in… in the Congo, there is a… there is a recent… Bosco Ntaganda, who is an ICC [International Criminal Court] indicted individual who is thought to be under mutiny has now denied it. He said that the fighting that’s been… had taken place between FARDC [Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo] and the… the mutineers does not involve him. I just wonder since… since obviously MONUSCO has a big presence there, is that their understanding and what do they think should happen with Mr. Ntaganda?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, following the developments in north Kivu where a number of elements of former armed group known as the CNDP [Congrès national pour la défense du people] have clashed with the armed Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo in the past few days. The fighting took place in areas west of Goma. A MONUSCO base at Mushake was fired upon, the former CNDP elements involved in this incident have defected recently from the FARDC and are believed to be loyal to ICC indictee Bosco Ntaganda. So, that’s basically what I have on that.
Question: Okay, they are loyal to… there is no… is there… does the UN… is the UN aware of any indication that they are actually… that he is participating and somehow leading them in this? Because he is denying it.
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, what I have here is that…
Deputy Spokesperson: …it involved the defected recently from the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo and are believed to be loyal to ICC indictee Bosco Ntaganda. That’s all I have.
Deputy Spokesperson: Okay?
Question: [inaudible] demonstration in Egypt and people have been killed. There is any reaction on what is going on Egypt and preparation of the elections the way this… this… of this is being conducted?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, the Secretary-General has always called for the right of people to demonstrate peacefully. We don’t know yet who attacked the demonstrators. I have seen the reports, but we don’t know yet who attacked the demonstrators. But the Secretary-General calls for the elections to be held in a peaceful way with no violence.
Question: But if this continues, do you think that these elections are, I mean are going to be considered fair elections?
Deputy Spokesperson: I am not going to speculate on what may happen. I can only talk to you about what is happening. And what is happening right now is that the Secretary-General calls on everybody to respect the right to peaceful protest, and to ensure that violence does not take place.
Question: [inaudible] there has been a strike by… by workers of UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] in Jordan, some 7,000 people, you know, have struck saying that they’re… they’re… they’re… the pay is… the pay is down, so I just wonder, is this impacting the people that UNRWA has to serve, or the UN system is serving there, and what’s… what’s going to be… what’s the UN’s response, I guess, to this labour action by its own employees?
Deputy Spokesperson: I’ll have to check on that, I don’t have any information on it. Sylvian?
Question: [inaudible] yesterday when Mr. Ladsous was briefing the military, under [inaudible], and not on Syria, he said, or correct me if I am wrong, he said that some contingents from UNIFIL [United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon] have joined the [inaudible] on Syria, the observers in Syria. Do you know what… how the number of those soldiers…?
Deputy Spokesperson: No, I don’t have the numbers…
Question: [inaudible] what is the kind of nationality, do you have…?
Deputy Spokesperson: No, we are not discussing nationalities here, and I don’t have the numbers as well. I think we are up to about 30-some odd in Syria right now and Mr. Ladsous said that they were working expeditiously to, they were working very had to get the rest of them sent there expeditiously.
Question: From UNDOF [United Nations Disengagement Observer Force] and from UNIFIL too?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, from a variety of sources. They are talking to troop-contributing countries, because obviously even if they come from existing missions, troop-contributing countries have to be in agreement with their redeployment. So, this is all under discussion right now. That’s what Mr Ladsous said yesterday.
Question: Just one, this is… it was… it was… there was supposed to be a 12:30 p.m. press conference by Azerbaijan, I guess it has been cancelled. Is it really been postponed? Do you anticipate this press conference on the programme of work taking place?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, you’d have to ask the Azerbaijanis. I mean, it is their press conference and it is the presidency of the Security Council, it is not [inaudible] Secretary-General.
Question: Did they call you back and so said it is cancelled? What did they say?
Deputy Spokesperson: They called us up and asked us to cancel the room for today. So, we’ll see what’s announced.
Okay, ladies and gentlemen, have a good afternoon. Thank you.
* *** *For information media • not an official record