|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.
**Secretary-General in Washington
This afternoon, the Secretary-General will meet President Barack Obama at the White House. The Secretary-General will thank the President for the strong support the United States has provided to the Organization, and they will discuss a broad range of pressing as well as longer-term global issues.
The Secretary-General will also meet with World Bank President Jim Kim before returning to New York later in the day.
The Security Council held consultations this morning on the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and on Sudan and South Sudan. The Council was briefed by the Head of the Mission, Major General Yohannes Gebremeskel Tesfamariam, and by Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.
**Central African Republic
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today that the humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic continues to deteriorate, with massive unrest and large-scale displacement across the country.
Communities affected by the crisis are in urgent need of food assistance, protection, health care, and water and sanitation support. There are serious concerns about widespread human rights violations across the country.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that the ongoing humanitarian efforts have been hampered by insecurity and limited access to people in need. The Office has called on all parties to preserve and facilitate access for all aid workers who need to reach affected communities with life-saving relief items such as food, water, shelter and medical supplies.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has been able to reach some 51,000 people with food assistance for the first time in Sudan’s Blue Nile State since the start of the conflict there in September 2011.
The first round of distributions consisted of two-months’ food rations for about 12,000 people in Geissan and 39,000 in Kurmuk. The Programme plans to reach people in six localities before the rainy season begins in May, but it still needs some $20 million to secure 17,000 metric tons of food for the response.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator, Helen Clark, wrapped up a four-day visit to Jordan yesterday, and said that greater international support is needed for the countries currently absorbing increasing waves of refugees fleeing Syria, including Jordan.
She said that Jordan is suffering a crisis clearly caused by the spillover of the very tragic events in Syria. As the international community addresses the significant needs of the refugees, she said she thinks it is important that Jordan’s particular circumstances are also taken into account.
**Special Tribunal for Lebanon
I was asked yesterday about the disclosure of information belonging to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon condemns in the strongest possible terms the latest attempt to interfere with the proper administration of justice by publishing a list of alleged witnesses and potentially endangering the lives of Lebanese citizens.
The Tribunal says that the list of persons that could be placed at risk by an irresponsible website is not, in fact, an accurate reflection of official court records. Those behind the website are in grave breach of journalistic ethics and employ questionable methods, such as Internet hacking.
Any attempt to knowingly and wilfully interfere with the judicial process, including disclosure of confidential material or threatening, intimidating, or otherwise interfering with potential witnesses, is taken very seriously by the Tribunal. The Tribunal can confirm that it has requested the assistance of Lebanese authorities and others in this matter so that appropriate measures may be taken if necessary.
And yesterday I was asked about the training of some UN police officers working with the UN Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH.
The UN Mission says it is aware that, prior to their expected deployment with the Mission, UN police from the United States are under the management and coordination of a private company, DynCorp, on behalf of the United States. The UN Mission was not involved in the selection of this company.
That’s what I have. Questions, please. Mr. Abbadi?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Thank you, Eduardo. Last week, as you know, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and with President Abbas and expressed some kind of optimism regarding the future there. And the United States decided to provide financial and economic assistance to the Palestinians. Does the Secretary-General have any reaction to that?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, any attempts to get the peace talks going and to help people in distress are welcome, I would say. And that’s where we would leave it. Sir?
Question: Has the Secretary-General received the letter from the Syrian Ambassador on explaining about the group of investigators [inaudible]? Has Secretary-General seen the letter from the Syrian Ambassador?
Deputy Spokesperson: The Secretary-General has received the letter, and we are in the process of analysing its contents. Hank?
Question: Hi, Eduardo. It’s kind of a shot in the dark, but thank you. I know the Secretary-General is closely monitoring the latest ceasefire between Israel and Palestine. The gate closures that you have made announcements on yesterday, I wonder if those stand in violation of any of the tenets of the ceasefire of the latest one?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, the Secretary-General is encouraged that the Egyptians are trying to continue to work closely with all sides to try and maintain the ceasefire. And that’s where I will leave it. Matthew?
Question: Sure, Eduardo, I wanted to ask you about, again about these rapes in Minova in, in November. There is an article in the Guardian in the United Kingdom today saying that so, that only three individuals have been arrested by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and I know that Mr. Ladsous has said an… an… an… an ultimatum was given by 1 April and that some undisclosed assurances were given, but given that now it is reported in… in… in some detail that only three people have been arrested for a 126 rapes, I’m… I guess I am asking, what are the assurances that the UN after having publicly set a deadline, dropped the deadline in exchange for… What assurances are there?
Deputy Spokesperson: Matthew, I have said everything we are going to say on that subject for the time being. If we have anything else, we’ll let you know.
Question: Okay, then… then my question is Mr.… Ms. Bangura, who… who publicly announced that she had signed an agreement with the Government of the DRC, is that… is that agreement public? Can the document be seen?
Deputy Spokesperson: I’ll have to check with her office.
Question: And is it… is it related in any to the dropping of the ultimatum, because, I guess I am just asking, you are saying you have nothing to say, but, I’m, just yes or no, I… I have, is it… is it the UN’s understanding that only three people have been arrested, and did they drop their ultimatum on that basis? Is that the position?
Deputy Spokesperson: Matthew, I’ll have to check; I don’t have the number of people who were arrested in that particular case. We’ll have to check and get back to you on that. Mr. Abbadi?
Question: As you indicated, the Secretary-General will soon meet with President Obama. Who has requested that meeting, the US Administration of the Secretary-General?
Deputy Spokesperson: I think it is by mutual accord. They hadn’t met in a couple of, in a few months, and it was, the Secretary-General was going to Washington and it came out that way. He was invited; obviously, he was invited by the President of the United States to visit him at the White House.
Question: Okay, I, I wanted to ask more, I mean, on the, this deadly incident in South Sudan,
Deputy Spokesperson: Yes.
Question: a couple of days ago…; first of all, have the, have the, the, you know, the initial condolence didn’t go to Kenya. Have, have the Kenyans been notified and is there, there some, supplement and also is there, is there anything more on what the U, who the UN thinks was behind this? South Sudan said it was the Yau Yau rebels; they have denied it, what’s the UN’s, it seems like it’s a major incident; what, what’s the UN’s current take on who killed the peacekeepers?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, we are working; we, we have called on the South Sudanese to do a full investigation. To the best of my knowledge, we ourselves haven’t identified who the perpetrators may be. As you know, there were about 200 armed people who attacked the convoy. What I can tell is that the contractors included four Kenyans and one South Sudanese, and there were three national staff in addition to the Indian peacekeepers.
Question: So, is it fair to say the Suda… that Ban Ki-moon offers his condolences to the Government of Kenya as well, just to put that?
Deputy Spokesperson: Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General, offers his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this very tragic incident and calls for full accountability for the guilty parties. Mr. Abbadi, last question?
Question: Does the Secretary-General have any reaction regarding the decision of Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad to submit his resignation to President Abbas?
Deputy Spokesperson: No, the Secretary-General realizes that these things happen. Governments come, and Governments go, and it is up to the Palestinian people to decide who the next Government is going to be.
Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, have a good afternoon.
* *** *For information media • not an official record