|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
**Security Council Mission in Sudan
Starting off with the Security Council mission that is currently taking place in Sudan, and as you know, is being led by UK Ambassador, Emyr Jones Parry –- the mission is finishing up its work in the country today. It met with the Wali, or governor, of North Darfur, as well as the UN country team and various non-governmental representatives based in Darfur. They heard detailed accounts of the security situation, humanitarian issues and gender-based violence.
The Council mission is travelling later today to N’djamena, the capital of Chad, from where, early tomorrow morning, they will go on to visit refugee camps in Abeche and Goz Beida in Chad.
In addition to meeting refugees who fled the violence in Darfur, the Council members also plan to talk to internally displaced in Chad. The mission will then continue its travels over the weekend by paying a visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where they have scheduled meetings next Monday with the President and Vice-Presidents of the DRC. And, that part of the mission is being led by the French Permanent Representative, Ambassador de La Sablière.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Timor-Leste, Sukehiro Hasegawa, today travelled to the eastern district of Baucau to meet with military and civil leaders in his continuing effort to forge a dialogue for peace.
Last week, Mr. Hasegawa met separately with the leaders of two groups of dismissed soldiers from the western part of the county, and he maintains close contact with the Government as well, having met with President Xanana Gusmão on Thursday.
In Baucau, Mr. Hasegawa also visited a displaced persons’ camp and spoke with camp residents to learn first-hand of their experience and assessment of living conditions in the camp.
Meanwhile, UN humanitarian agencies in Timor-Leste, which also includes those working with NGOs, today reported the delivery of 19 metric tons of food to camps in and around Dili. UN agencies also report conducting a census of school-aged children, helping to reunite displaced children with their families, and setting up an early-warning system for outbreaks of infectious diseases. And, we have more information in a number of press releases upstairs.
In Somalia, the UN Special Representative for Somalia, Mr. François Lonseny Fall, yesterday held meetings with ambassadors and senior members of the international community in Nairobi to discuss the situation in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
Also yesterday in Nairobi, Mr. Fall met with the Governor of Mogadishu, who briefed him on the situation in the capital and appealed for humanitarian and medical assistance for people affected by the recent fighting in the capital.
Mr. Fall arrived today in Hargeisa, in the Somaliland region of the country, where he is meeting with local authorities. And, he is travelling as well with the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Eric Laroche. Mr. Fall is expected to be here next week to brief the Security Council.
Turning to word from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees -– UNHCR launched its “2005 Global Refugee Trends” report in Geneva today.
According to the report, while the number of refugees worldwide has reached a 26-year low, the number of uprooted people in general -– including the internally displaced, the Stateless, and asylum-seekers –- rose last year to close to 21 million. The report shows that five nationalities account for nearly half of the world’s total number of uprooted people. And those are Afghans, Colombians, Iraqis, Sudanese, and Somalis. And, the report is available to you, upstairs.
And from Thailand, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) have released emergency cash grants, following severe flash floods and landslides that hit the northern part of that country. UNDP will work with the Thai Government to build permanent housing for flood survivors.
Today being Friday, we do have the Week Ahead for you. And, just to note, the Secretary-General will hold a Press Conference next Thursday. We’re trying to schedule it for about 10:30 in the morning to help you meet some of your early deadlines, but we will be able to confirm the time next week, but that is on Thursday.
And, just one in-house note: if ever there was a World Cup for longevity in one news organization, your colleague, UPI’s Bill Reilly, would get that award.
Bill is celebrating his forty-fifth year as a journalist working for United Press International. In addition to having covered the world from the UN since 1990, Bill has done extensive work around the world, most notably for his extensive coverage of the war in Viet Nam. UPI is lucky to have held on for so long to such a talented journalist. So, congratulations to Bill.
And, on that note, I will take your questions. Masood?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Steph, in a speech last night, Ambassador Bolton again reflected on Mr. Mark Malloch Brown’s speech, and he suggested that he may have done irreparable damage to the relationship between the US and the UN. And, he also said that the whole reform process would go into disarray. And, he did not rule out the possibility of the US Congress withholding funds. Do you have any reaction to that?
Spokesman: No, I think I would just go back to what the Secretary-General said yesterday about the UN’s message to the US. The Secretary-General is carrying on with his work, and Mr. Bolton, with his. But, we really have nothing to add to his speech yesterday.
Question: Also, on Lebanon, Mr. Brammertz –- is he coming tomorrow?
Spokesman: Mr. Brammertz is not yet in New York. We do expect him over in New York in the next couple of days. He is scheduled to meet the Security Council next week, on Wednesday, I believe. And, he will speak to you, most likely at the stakeout, afterwards. I would just urge you to check with Farhan in my office before you leave for the day as to how and when the report will get handed over to the Secretary-General.
Question: Will it be over the weekend?
Spokesman: As I said, I urge you to check with Farhan before the end of the day.
Question: What about the stakeout? Is that also going to be on the weekend?
Spokesman: No, no. It would be after he briefs the Council, which is what he traditionally does. Yes, Nick?
Question: Steph, is there any reason that Mr. Brammertz has given for the delay? He has been expected to deliver that report today?
Spokesman: Obviously, the report wasn’t completed. As soon as the report is complete, he is expected to come to New York, hand it over to the Secretary-General, and present it to the Council. And, if I’m not mistaken, his deadline for handing it to the Council is the 15th of June.
Question: And, as a follow-up to that: his mandate expires on that day. So, what has the Secretary-General proposed? Has he agreed with the Lebanese request for an extension of the mandate? What’s his attitude for how long he would want that mandate in place?
Spokesman: At this point, the only thing I can tell you is that, obviously, the mandate is up to the Council to renew, but the Secretary-General is determined to continue the cooperation with the Lebanese people on a number of fronts, including this one.
Question: Just one more question. On the Secretary-General’s press conference, what’s the occasion for that? What’s going on?
Spokesman: It’s a mid-year press conference -– there are all sorts of issues he wants to speak about. He may very well do quite a bit of travelling over the summer, so he felt it was a good chance to speak to you before the summer got fully under way.
Question: [inaudible] ... announcements?
Spokesman: At this point, I think there’s between -– Iran, Iraq, UN reform, Timor-Leste -– there’s quite a lot for him to speak about, and you to ask him on. Yes, Mark?
Question: On Timor, there are calls for the UN to stay another 10 years. Where are we on the process of the UN putting together some ... [talkover]?
Spokesman: Ian Martin is here in New York. He’s briefing the Secretary-General, probably as we speak. So, the Secretary-General will have a good idea of what is actually going on on the ground. We will obviously make some recommendations to the Council, and those will be discussed during the week. But, it’s fairly clear that the UN will have to reconsider, and probably increase, its posture in Timor as we move ahead.
Question: In terms of this, I don’t actually know where we are in Sudan. What’s the sort of current status of the general kind of UN overstretch in the peacekeeping area? I mean, if you’re going to go back to Timor and go up ... I mean, that was one of the places where peacekeepers might be able to reduce its numbers. We keep on hearing these concerns about overstretch –- have you got any more indications that other countries are going to start to step in and fill in the gap?
Spokesman: Well, these are obviously discussions that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations is having. Should there be an increase in Timor, and with Sudan and Darfur, there will be a need for the international community to come up with the troops and the logistics that are needed. Yes, Laura?
Question: Steph, there is a press report that two rebel factions in Darfur -– the other two -– signed the peace agreement. Was there any sort of connection to the UN trip, the Security Council trip, and was there any sort of –- did they speak to those...?
Spokesman: You know, I’ve just seen those press reports. I don’t have anything hard on that. We can come up after the briefing and see if we can get anything from our people on the ground. Yes?
Question: A growing number of Congressmen this morning have, following that [Malloch] Brown speech, have called for his resignation or even dismissal. Do you have any reaction to that?
Spokesman: I think there’s been absolutely no change in the Secretary-General’s position on Mr. Malloch Brown, which he explained to you fairly clearly last week ... earlier this week, which I stated as well. The Secretary-General is going about his work with his team. So, there’s no reaction to those.
Question: On East Timor –- I’m just wondering if you could clarify, who’s in New York now?
Spokesman: Mr. Ian Martin. There’s enough room for both of them to do [talkover]. Yes, Mr. Hasegawa -– there’s enough for both of them to do. Mr. Hasegawa is continuing his work in Timor, talking to the various political factions, and Mr. Martin is here to brief the Secretary-General.
Question: Okay. And, is there any chance of press availability for Mr. Martin?
Spokesman: Yes, we’re working on doing that with Mr. Martin.
Spokesman: I don’t think it’ll be today. Yes, Mark?
Question: On the budget crisis -– I know I’ve asked this a couple of times, but could we please have somebody come here and really give us a very clear explanation of the state of UN finances right now? Not in general or legalistic terms, but in very practical terms; when you would normally have expected certain finances; what’s here, what’s not here; what money runs out when. Just to give us a very clear map of what point the UN is going to need extra money. Just to explain it all, because it’s all a little bit diffuse at the moment.
Spokesman: [makes a note] Steve?
Question: Is it fair to say the Secretary-General has squared the idea -– I’m sure this question’s been asked –- the idea that, you know, normally international civil servants never, ever, ever mention a country. I mean, how many times have we asked “Which country is doing this? Which country is doing that?” –- and it’s always in general terms. You know, the Secretary-General, last year, couldn’t mention Zimbabwe when he was deploring ... people’s homes and so forth. How does the Secretary-General not mention a country then ... [talkover]?
Spokesman: You know, statements by senior UN officials often mention countries. And, I think, as for Zimbabwe, I would refer you to the report that Anna Tibaijuka put together at the Secretary-General’s request, and it’s pretty clear on what the situation is in that country. Senior UN officials often mention countries by name. Yes, Matthew?
Question: On the Lord’s Resistance Army, there are increasing reports of these meetings between ... in South Sudan with Uganda. I appreciate your office’s efforts yesterday to figure out who’s representing the LRA, but I’d like ... have those efforts ... I’ll get right to the point –- on MONUC’s website, there’s a detailed article about the LRA in the New Vision newspaper describing in great detail that they’re in Garamba Park, Vincent Otti travelling to these meetings. So, I guess I wonder, is there going to be follow-up on that? Is his position that the five individuals indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal should be arrested in South Sudan if they arrive there?
Spokesman: Obviously, the situation with the LRA, northern Uganda, is one that needs to be dealt with on a number of levels –- political and humanitarian. But, what is clear is that impunity should not stand, and people who need to face justice, should face justice.
Question: And that includes all five?
Spokesman: I’ll stand with what I just said.
Question: Okay. Yesterday, your colleague said there would be, you’d have a statement if, in fact, it was confirmed that Vincent Otti was in fact the one travelling. Is that still...?
Spokesman: I’ll see what we can do after the briefing, then.
Question: Thank you. And peacekeepers in Ituri, no?
Spokesman: Still very much working on securing the release of the seven Nepalese peacekeepers, and I have nothing to announce, yet.
Thank you very much and we can go back to watching the games.
* *** *