28 January 2013
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 briefing, here in the hot room today.


**Noon Briefing Guest


Today, I am joined by John Ging, the Operations Director of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.  And he is here to brief on his recent visit to Syria.  After he is finished, he will take some questions from the floor, after which I have a few announcements to make and take one or two questions also.  Mr. Ging, the floor is yours.


[Press conference by Mr. Ging is issued separately.]


Okay, ladies and gentlemen, I have a few announcements to read out, and then I will take one or two questions.


**Secretary-General’s Travels


The Secretary-General is wrapping up his visit today to Addis Ababa, where he attended the African Union Summit.  In a press conference before his departure, the Secretary-General said that he sees Africa on the rise and welcomes progress on development, good governance and human rights.


The Secretary-General noted that leaders had planned to sign a political framework on the Democratic Republic of the Congo this morning.  There were no fundamental differences over the content of the framework.  Some procedural issues, however, did arise, and the Secretary-General said that the parties have agreed to postpone the signing.  The United Nations remains committed to help foster greater stability in the country.


The Secretary-General said that, in Mali, the welcome contribution and decisive action of the French Government, alongside Malian and other African forces, has allowed significant advances in the restoration of Malian territorial integrity.  The United Nations stands ready to undertake a major system-wide effort for peacebuilding, governance and security sector reform, physical reconstruction and regional cooperation.


The Secretary-General also commended the authorities of Sudan and South Sudan for taking positive steps to resolve their differences.


He held several bilateral meetings and attended an event on combating malaria in Africa.  He will depart shortly for Kuwait, where he will convene the Syria Humanitarian Conference on Wednesday.


**South Sudan


The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) confirms that on Sunday, fighting erupted in Pibor market between the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and unidentified armed elements.  At this stage, the UN Mission has not been able to confirm the identity of the armed elements or any casualty figure.


As a result of the fighting, around 2,500 civilians have sought refuge in the Mission's camp in Pibor.  The Mission is providing medical help to the injured and has helped evacuate two injured to Juba, South Sudan’s capital.


The UN Mission is actively providing protection to civilians and is in contact with the SPLA and authorities to defuse the situation and ascertain facts.  UNMISS remains committed to protecting civilians, but underscores that the Government of South Sudan is primarily responsible for the maintenance of security and the protection of civilians.  The Mission reiterates its call to all parties in Pibor to avoid further violence, and urges the authorities to take the necessary measures to ensure security.


**Economic and Social Council


And the UN Economic and Social Council elected Ambassador Néstor Osorio of Colombia this morning as its sixty-ninth President, for 2013.  Four countries were also elected as Vice-Presidents:   Austria, Albania, Pakistan and Sudan.


I have time for a couple of questions.  Matthew?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Sure, I wanted to ask you, I guess, one… one question about… or… well, they may… maybe they are both about [ Democratic Republic of the Congo].  One is about this fighting in… in Katanga Province, where people say that there is militias [sic] fighting the Government; thousands of people are displaced.  Is MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo) able to do anything or is it outside of its op… base of operations?  Then, I wanted to ask you about drones.  It was said here on Friday that the procurement had been launched by DPKO (Department of Peacekeeping Operations), and… and in… in looking into it, it looks like the procurement began 28 November and ran through 11 January.  So, it looks like DPKO started procuring drones for West Africa and Central Africa before they had any approval, even this most recent letter from the Council.  So, I wanted to know, on what basis did DPKO begin procuring drones, and is it, in fact, the case that they intend to use them in West Africa, as the procurement document states?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I will have to find out on both issues for you, Matthew.  I have nothing to add to what Farhan [Haq] said Friday.  Nizar, last question?


Question:  Yes, regarding the situation in Egypt, what… how does the Secretary-General view the violence that has erupted there?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General is extremely concerned with the violence that has taken place in Egypt and laments the deaths that have taken place there.  And I would draw attention to his statement of last week, where he called on all sides to exercise the right to peaceful demonstration, with the emphasis on peaceful and democratic, and that the democratic process in Egypt must continue in an inclusive manner.  Let me see if I have the…


Question:  How about the calling of a state of emergency, in certain areas, certain provinces?


Deputy Spokesperson:  One second, let me just read what the Secretary-General said, so you have it clear:  The Secretary-General encourages Egyptians to remain committed to universal principles of peaceful dialogue and non-violence, inclusiveness, respect for human rights and the independence of institutions, and democratic processes which are accommodating of the diversity of viewpoints.  He underscores the importance of the active participation of women in decision-making. 


Question:  And about these recent developments, like imposing curfew, do you have anything?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Of what?


Correspondent:  Imposing curfews and martial law in certain…


Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General has called for them to allow peaceful demonstrations, but the onus is on all sides to ensure that demonstrations are peaceful and lead to a comprehensive dialogue.


Okay, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.  Have a good afternoon.


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For information media • not an official record