|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.
The Secretary-General is in Geneva today, where he launched the Millennium Development Goals Report 2013 at the opening of the high-level segment of the annual meeting of the Economic and Social Council.
In his remarks, he said that the Report highlights a number of successes on key Millennium Development Goals targets that have already been met, or are within close reach by 2015, but that it also outlines serious challenges. He said that, with fewer than 1,000 days before the deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, we must accelerate progress. He added that we must shape a global agenda beyond 2015 with poverty eradication and sustainable development at its core.
The Secretary-General also participated in the launch of the 2013 Global Innovation Index of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). He said that science, technology and innovation will play a role in driving sustainable development.
While in Geneva, the Secretary-General met with the Minister for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs of Nepal, Madhav Prasad Ghimire. The Secretary-General will depart Geneva for Reykjavik, Iceland, later today.
This morning in Bamako, a ceremony marked the official start of the UN peacekeeping operations in Mali, with the transfer of authority from the African-led International Support Mission to Mali, AFISMA, to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, MINUSMA. The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, was present at the ceremony.
The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Mali, Bert Koenders, said that, by establishing the Mission, the Security Council had reiterated the international community’s commitment to assist Malians towards peace, stability and prosperity. He also said that MINUSMA would continue working closely with the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other international partners to support Malians.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, urgently called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, as armed conflict flared up in Somalia's southern port city of Kismayo. Reports suggest serious clashes over the last days have led to a number of casualties, including civilian deaths. Mr. Kay called on all parties to refrain from any action which could be seen as a provocation.
The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) says that a total of 761 Iraqis were killed and another 1,771 were wounded in acts of terrorism and violence in June. That figure includes 685 civilians killed and 1,610 civilians wounded. Baghdad was the worst-affected Governorate, with 950 civilian casualties, followed by Salahuddin, Ninewa, Diyala and Anbar. We have a press release with more details.
The Acting Humanitarian Coordinator for Myanmar, Eamonn Murphy, said today that there have been two incidents in recent weeks in Myanmar's Rakhine State, where displaced people have lost their lives while protesting plans for relocation to temporary shelters.
He said that any relocation of internally displaced people should be voluntary and resolved without the use of force. He urged broader confidence and trust building measures between the communities and the Government, starting with clear communication of the Government’s vision and plans for the short and long term for all people in Rakhine State, particularly those who are currently displaced. Mr. Murphy also said that the international community stands ready to assist in any way it can.
And tomorrow, at 12:30 p.m., there will be a press conference here by Rosemary DiCarlo, the Acting Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations and the President of the Security Council for the month of July.
**Questions and Answers
Question: Besides the official ceremony in Bamako, what is happening on the ground? I mean, deployment, what are the… how many… how many peacekeepers are there and do you have any figures? And what are they doing now?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, the peacekeepers who were there before have been re-hatted with blue helmets and they have four months to meet the specifications and requirements of the United Nations. So, many of the peacekeepers were there already, others I imagine will follow. Microphone?
Question: I mean, no movements today? Nothing…?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, we are not going to report on movements by troops in Mali.
Correspondent: This is the first day, I mean…
Deputy Spokesperson: We are not going report on movements by troops; I am sorry. Tim?
Question: Just so that means there are more than, whatever, the 6,100, in this… at the start of the mission, then?
Deputy Spokesperson: We will have to check on that for you; I don’t have exact figures with me. Matthew?
[The Deputy Spokesperson later confirmed that 6,103 troops had been re-hatted to serve in MINUSMA as of 1 July.]
Question: Thanks a lot, Eduardo. I want to ask you something that I tried to ask DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] on Saturday. Maybe I… I… I’m somehow guessing, maybe you have… you have something or some… I wanted to ask about specific units of the Congolese army now reported to be involved in a mixture of rape, torture, conflict gold mining and recruitment of child soldiers; specifically the 9… 950th regiment, 601st, 8… 812th and the 10th military region. I… it seems like DPKO should… since it has a conditionality policy of not supporting units engaged in abuses, now that the group of experts has speci… specified that these particular units are engaged in the things that I described, what is the next step? Does DPKO… I have asked them and if they have an answer, it seems like they probably have an answer, do they support these units, and what are they gonna do now in light of the Group of Experts’ report?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, we discussed what happened with the previous units; that there were indications from the Congolese Government that they were, in fact, complying and they were, in fact, taking steps. I will check with DPKO to try and get an answer on these specific units.
Question: One more thing, the most specific… the most problematic part is actually some of these are… are units that… that are described by the Group of Experts as having, you know, attacked UN compounds. It… it… it seems very strange that the UN can’t just come out and say we don’t work with these people, but…
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, we will contact DPKO and we can ask for you. Please?
Question: This question might be a bit too early, but with regards to the tensions that are happening in Egypt and the Military Council’s statement this morning, just was wondering what the Secretary-General’s stance is on what is happening?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, the Secretary-General’s stance continues to be his statement put out on Friday; he called for a peaceful resolution; he called for there to be no violence in the situation; he called for the authorities to respect the rights of people to protest, and [said] it is up to the Egyptians to decide what they are going to do next. If we have anything else later on, we will put it into the transcript.
[The Deputy Spokesperson later issued the following on the subject:
We continue to closely follow the situation in Egypt. Though it would seem the vast majority of those taking part in protests have done so peacefully to this point, the reports of a number of deaths and injuries, of sexual assault against women demonstrators, as well as acts of destruction of property are to be strongly condemned.
We repeat the Secretary-General’s call for all parties to uphold the law, while respecting the right to demonstrate peacefully. We note that this right, in particular, must be extended to female demonstrators, given the concerns over the high number of reports of sexual assault.
It is crucial at this time that Egyptians find the way to resolve differences through democratic means. Peaceful dialogue and non-violence are the keys to restoring stability and moving Egypt’s transition forward. Leaders at all levels have a responsibility to work constructively and inclusively for the good of the country.
We appeal for tolerance and peaceful coexistence of different faiths and beliefs, as has been traditionally the case in Egypt.
The world is watching Egypt and what Egypt does with its transition will have a significant impact on other transition countries in the region. A stable and secure Egypt is crucial for regional stability and security].
Question: Starting today, 1 July, Lithuania takes over the presidency of the Council of the European Union. And I’d like to know, based on previous conversations between the UN Secretary-General and the Lithuanian Foreign Minister, is Ban Ki-moon planning to visit the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, we never announce visits anywhere until close to the date. If we have anything to announce, we will announce it, but we have nothing to announce now, no. Matthew?
Question: Sure, I… I want to ask, there is a… there are… there is a report from Haiti of a… of a UN peacekeeper shot in a protest outside Petit-Goave, and at least two media have it, and I am wondering, is there some… can MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti] confirm it, and what was MINUSTAH’s… what were they doing during this protest?
Deputy Spokesperson: The UN Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, reported that on Thursday, 27 June, on the road between Miragoane and Leogane, in Haiti's western province, two UN personnel came upon a roadblock where demonstrators were present. A shooting incident took place when the two UN personnel were in the vicinity and one of them sustained an arm injury. A joint team of Haiti National Police and UN peacekeepers were deployed immediately to the scene, and an investigation has been launched.
Question: Thank you. Eduardo, I heard of tomorrow’s meeting between Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry. Has the Secretary-General contacted any of them recently on the Geneva Conference? Also, is… are there any plans of new trilateral consultations with Russia and the UN?
Deputy Spokesperson: We’ll have to check. Obviously, it is an encouraging sign that both the Secretary of State and the Russian Foreign Minister continue to work assiduously to try and get this conference to happen. It is something the Secretary-General considers important. The violence in Syria has claimed far too many lives and it is time for the international community to take considered action to bring both sides to the table and to have a negotiated settlement. Matthew?
Question: Sure, I want to ask you about Somalia and also Umoja. In Somalia, the Government, who is the Minister for Information, has called for the replacement of the Kenyan troops in AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia] from Kismayo, saying that they have sided with the warlord, and so, you know, given, obviously, there is the new UN Mission there and the UN… UN role in AMISOM, do… what… what is the response of the UN system? Should Ke… are there any moves afoot to replace the Kenyans; have the Kenyans sided with the warlord, as Somalia’s federal, you know, Government in Mogadishu is saying; what’s the UN’s position on that?
Deputy Spokesperson: I have nothing on that, Matthew. When we get something I will let you know. Who else? Any other question? No? Okay, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Have a good afternoon.
Correspondent: It’s a big day for Umoja.
Deputy Spokesperson: It is a big day. Thank you, have a good afternoon.
* *** *For information media • not an official record