|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICES OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
AND THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT
Following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General and Pragati Pascale, Spokesperson for the General Assembly President.
Briefing by Spokesman for Secretary-General
Thank you. My guest today will be Ms. Anne Veneman, who as you know is the Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund, as well as Dr. Peter Salama, the Chief of the Immunization Plus Section, of the United Nations Children’s Fund, and they are here to launch Progress for Children -- A Report Card for Immunization.
**Appointment of Dr. David Nabarro
As you just heard here for the last hour, you know the Secretary-General has just appointed Dr. David Nabarro as Senior UN System Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza. I won’t go into any more detail. The statement is upstairs. I think you had a full briefing.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) expressed grave concern today over an unprecedented attack on a camp for thousands of internally displaced persons in Sudan’s West Darfur region, which reportedly left 29 people dead and another 10 seriously wounded.
Initial reports received by UNHCR indicate that a group of 250-300 armed Arab men on horses and camels attacked Aro Sharow camp, in the northern part of West Darfur, on Wednesday afternoon, sending thousands of camp residents fleeing into the countryside.
The UN Mission in Sudan reports that the security situation has deteriorated in West Darfur following the attack, and there are indications that the camp has been burnt to the ground. The African Union is investigating the attack.
Jan Pronk, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, expressed his deep concern about the upsurge of violence in Darfur at a time when every effort is being exerted to speed up a peaceful solution to the conflict in the region in the framework of the Abuja talks. Pronk will be meeting this afternoon with the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Sudan, Baba Gana Kingibe, to discuss the incident.
The UN Mission in Afghanistan today condemned in the strongest terms yesterday’s suicide attack against members of the Afghan National Army in Kabul. It expressed sympathy to the families of the victims and its best wishes for the recovery of the wounded.
The UN Mission also paid tribute to all the soldiers and officers of the Afghan National Army that have laid down their lives in the accomplishment of their mission. The United Nations Mission said that yesterday’s attack is yet another reason for the Afghan people to reject violence and rally in support of the national army.
Terje Roed-Larsen, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy dealing with the implementation of resolution 1559, had a prolonged tête-à-tête meeting today with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo. They reviewed all issues related to the implementation of resolution 1559 and the broader political context. President Mubarak also updated Mr. Roed-Larsen on his latest contacts with regional leaders. They agreed to remain in close contact. After his meeting, Roed-Larsen spoke with Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora to discuss the latest developments.
Turning to the Council, the Security Council members today are holding consultations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is receiving a briefing from William Swing, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for that country, who will discuss recent developments and the Secretary-General’s latest report.
In the report, the Secretary-General asks for a one-year extension of the UN Mission in the Congo, until the beginning of October 2006, and also hopes that the Council will give “due consideration” to his recommendation for an increase of 2,580 troops for the UN Mission.
** Côte d’Ivoire
Turning to Côte d’Ivoire, out on the racks today is the Secretary-General’s latest report to the Security Council on the UN Operation in that country.
In it he says that the scheduled 30 October elections will not happen on time, and that urgent attention must be given to the post 30 October period. He calls upon all parties to agree on a realistic timeframe for the electoral process.
The Secretary-General also asks the Security Council to consider, as a matter of urgency, the report on serious violations of human rights that he submitted to the Council last year.
Iraqi human rights officials and the families of missing persons have been meeting this week under the auspices of the UN Mission in Iraq to finalize preparations for a National Centre for Missing and Disappeared Persons in Iraq. The purpose of the Centre is to support the survivors of all Iraqis who have involuntarily disappeared. Its main activities will be to identify missing and disappeared persons, and to assist survivors in resuming normal lives. We have further detail upstairs in a press release from the Mission.
The World Food Programme (WFP) today reports that it has completed the first round of food distributions to some 1.7 million people in Niger. The agency said it has already begun its second round of distributions, and that the most vulnerable people in that country are being helped. And we have a full press release upstairs.
And a correction to yesterday’s briefing. I told you that the Secretary General’s Special Representative to Sierra Leone is Alan Doss. We apologize. Mr. Doss is the Special Representative for Liberia, while the Special Representative for Sierra Leone is Mr. Daudi Ngelautwa Mwakawago. We’re confused, they’re not, and we apologize. Our guest tomorrow will be Desmond da Silva, the Prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and Robin Vincent, the Court’s Registrar.
Before I turn to Pragati, any questions?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Regarding Mr. Roed-Larsen in Egypt, did they speak about the Palestinians, the heavy armament coming from Lebanon to the Palestinians please?
Spokesman: As we said, it was a tête-à-tête. The information received is what I read out, but they discussed all the implications of resolution 1559.
Question: The FBI is now in Lebanon after the attack on the journalist. There is some floating idea that after the Mehlis report scheduled for 21 October, there will be a possibility that people from his team would remain on the ground, and also maybe an international force would come to Lebanon to help with the security establishment.
Spokesman: On the possibility of Mr. Mehlis leaving some people behind, that would have to be a request from the Lebanese Government, which we would of course study.
Question: Steph, earlier this week there was some talk that Mr. Jan Egeland might come down to talk about the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe. Is that going to happen, and has a date been set for his trip to Harare?
Spokesman: No, as far as I know a date has not yet been set. We don’t think Mr. Egeland will be available to come this week. We’re working and trying to get someone for you in the early part of next week, but we’ll keep you posted.
Question: You mentioned about Roed-Larsen meeting with the Lebanese Prime Minister and said that they discussed developments. Do you have any more detail then?
Spokesman: It was a phone call. That’s the only information we received. But I think the obvious answer is that they discussed the implementation of resolution 1559.
Question: How long did they speak for?
Spokesman: I don’t know. If you’re interested in that level of detail, I’ll be happy to get that information for you.
[The Spokesman later informed the journalist that they spoke for 15 minutes.]
Question: What timetables does the Secretary-General consider to be realistic for the elections in the Ivory Coast?
Spokesman: It’s not so much an issue at this point of setting a time, but it’s making sure that everything that needs to be done on the ground is done in terms of disarmament, and all the other activities that the stakeholders, all the Ivorian parties, need to do in creating an environment that’s conducive to an election.
Question: Do you have any figures or estimation about the captured and missing people in Iraq?
Spokesman: No I do not, but we can put you in touch with our Mission in Baghdad and see if they have a number.
Question: I missed the opening presentation before the Q&A. I don’t know if it came up, but the Secretary-General said to, I believe, the BBC a few weeks ago that the United Nations should never take on such a massive programme as oil-for-food. Yesterday in Congress, in Congressional testimony, Mark Malloch Brown said we should take on something like oil-for-food. This was after John Bolton said that. Who’s right? Who’s going to be in the building longer to see whose answer is right? I’m not talking about resignation; I’m talking about past January 2007. But what’s the story?
Spokesman: It’s a good question. The gist of it is that whatever programme and tasks are given to us, to the Secretariat, the important thing for us is that they are given to us with clear expectations and a clear line of authority, which was not the case with oil-for-food.
Question: So would-?
Spokesman: I would like to stay in the building long, so I will leave it at that.
Question: You’re in a film called Broken Promises. You are the United Nations representative speaking. You haven’t seen the film, but I wondered if you could give a comment on a production that analyzes the United Nations’ history, its faults, its missteps. Is it fair? Is it accurate? Ron Silver was the reporter. He talked to you. Do you have any review?
Spokesman: As I said, I haven’t seen the film. They asked for someone from the United Nations to be interviewed. I was that person. It’s up to the public to judge the film, but I haven’t seen it.
Question: And a housekeeping matter, for camera crews, they keep getting pushed to 48th Street though the building seems to be back to normal and they keep being told this is the last day of it. Can your office confirm that camera crews can come into 46th and be treated like the rest of humanity in the building?
Spokesman: Is that a good thing? I will talk to Gary right after the briefing.
Thank you. Pragati.
Briefing by Spokesperson for General Assembly President
The General Assembly is meeting in plenary this morning, to consider the Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization, which he presented to Member States at the start of the general debate. The list of the 22 speakers inscribed is available upstairs. Many of the speakers are using this opportunity to put forward views on the follow-up to the 2005 World Summit.
Assembly President Jan Eliasson is in the process of finalizing the letter he will send to Member States either tomorrow or Monday, outlining his work plan for implementation of the World Summit Outcome. He is holding some additional consultations today. We are planning for him to brief the press either tomorrow or Monday; we should be able to notify you by the end of today.
Thank you very much.
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