Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Opening remarks at press encounter following Security Council briefing on visit to Africa

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 05 February 2008

[Unofficial transcript] Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. As you know, I have just briefed the Security Council on the serious developments in Africa.

Over the past month, I have been deeply engaged in the evolving situation in Kenya.

As I warned at the African Union summit last week, ethnic clashes threaten to escalate out of control. During my visit, I told Kenya's leaders, President Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga, that they bear a particular political responsibility for the future of Kenya. I stressed to all the Kenyan leaders the need to stop the unacceptable violence and killings and to resolve their differences through dialogue and the democratic process. I also appealed to all the political leaders to think beyond their individual interests or party lines, and to look to the future of Kenya as one country.

I reiterate my support to the mediation efforts of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities led by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan. When I met him in Nairobi, we discussed in depth his roadmap for the talks. The parties are now talking and discussing practical measures to stop the spiral of violence, to address the humanitarian crisis, and to restore fundamental human rights and liberties.

I have assigned several members of my staff to provide necessary assistance to Mr. Annan's team, and we have established a UNDP trust fund to support this. With our partners, we have been able to meet the initial basic needs of displaced populations, totaling around 310,000 IDPs spread over 192 sites in the western and central provinces, and I am going to dispatch Mr. John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, to look after these issues.

Needless to say, much more needs to be done. I urge donors to provide additional funding to address this grave emergency. < p> Turning to the situation in Chad, I am alarmed by the deteriorating security situation in the capital, N'Djamena, and elsewhere. We can no longer guarantee the safety and security of UN staff in Chad and we have evacuated, with the help of the French Government, most of the personnel into neighbouring countries, in Cameroon and Gabon.

However, a small number of personnel from MINURCAT in N'Djamena, and some other UN agencies, some essential members, are still remaining. We will take necessary measures in close cooperation with the French Government when it is necessary.

The United Nations will do its utmost to help resolve the crisis. I welcome the initiative of the African Union to have designated leaders of Libya and the Republic of Congo to mediate this issue.

I urged the Council to act swiftly to help bring this terrible crisis to an end. It has devastating consequences not only for the people of Chad and Darfurian refugees seeking shelter there, but also for Darfur itself.

The situation in Darfur is no less troubling. Insecurity continues to severely restrict humanitarian access to civilians in need of assistance.

UNAMID troop contributors must speed up their preparations. We need our forces in the theatre of operations as soon as possible. UNAMID still lacks required aviation and ground transportation -- chiefly helicopters. Additional troops will not make up for this shortfall. Countries that called for intervention in Darfur are under a special obligation to deliver on their promises.

On the margins of the AU Summit, I discussed the major outstanding UNAMID issues with President [Omar al-]Bashir of Sudan. I am pleased to report that we are making good progress on the Status of Forces Agreement. The Government has indicated that we can expect the signing to take place this week.

However, the deployment of UNAMID will only be as effective as the political process it is mandated to support. My special envoys will therefore continue their efforts to bring the government of Sudan and the movements to the negotiating table.

Before concluding, let me say a few words about the security and safety of United Nations staff and premises. Recent events in Kenya, Chad, Darfur and Algeria serve only to underscore this matter's urgency.

I am therefore setting up, as I already announced in Geneva two weeks ago, an Independent Panel on Safety and Security of UN Personnel and Premises. The panel will be chaired by Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, who possesses vast experience and knowledge of UN operations.

I will also be engaging with Member States in the coming weeks and months to strengthen the security and safety support they are providing to UN staff posted in their countries. Thank you very much.