Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

9 August 2011

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

9 August 2011
Spokesperson's Noon Briefing
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 Farhan Haq, Acting Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon, everyone.

**Secretary-General in the Republic of Korea

The Secretary-General arrived in Seoul earlier today from Tokyo.  He said that he had been inspired by the Japanese people’s resilience in coping with the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident.  He said he was also impressed by their determination to share the lessons they have learned in tackling the disaster.

The Secretary-General will spend the next six days in the Republic of Korea, on his first trip home since he was reappointed for a second term.

Tomorrow, he will address the Republic of Korea’s Global Compact group, which brings businesses together to support the UN’s work and foster corporate good governance.  He will also speak at the opening of the United Nations Academic Impact forum, a grouping of academics from more than 100 countries.  He is expected to tell them that the Academic Impact initiative is helping to inject new dynamism into the work of the United Nations.

The Secretary-General will also meet the Speaker of the National Assembly and its Working Group on the Millennium Development Goals.  And tomorrow evening, he will meet and dine with President Lee Myung-bak.

**Horn of Africa

The Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, led a humanitarian mission to Mogadishu yesterday to update the Prime Minister and the African Union Mission in Somalia, AMISOM, on the humanitarian situation and to discuss the scale-up of humanitarian operations in southern Somalia.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that 2,000 tons of humanitarian assistance was dispatched to Somalia in July by air, boat or road.  Programmes are being stepped up, but security conditions and access are still major challenges.

Today, the World Food Programme (WFP) started a series of nine airlifts to Mombasa, Kenya, carrying a total of 800 metric tons of high-energy biscuits, enough to feed 1.6 million people for a day.  The biscuits are being pre-positioned for onward delivery to vulnerable people throughout the Horn of Africa.

Over the next two months, WFP is working to deliver a total of 2,000 metric tons of high-nutrient Plumpy Sup, 2,000 metric tons of high-energy biscuits and up to 10,000 metric tons of a fortified blend of corn- and soya-based food by air and road to Somalia.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) is warning of the high risk of disease outbreaks in drought-affected areas in the Horn of Africa.  There has been a suspected measles outbreak in the Dollo Ado camps in Ethiopia.  WHO, as well as the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), have been working to screen children, increase surveillance and raise awareness among refugees.  The World Health Organization also says that, in Somalia, there are confirmed cholera outbreaks in Mogadishu, Bay, Mudug and Lower Shabelle regions.

**Security Council

The Security Council received an update on the situation in Yemen in closed consultations this morning.  Jamal Benomar, the Special Adviser on Yemen, discussed his recent travel to that country.

Yesterday afternoon, the President of the Council read out a press statement in which the members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the attack on peacekeepers from the UN-African Union mission in Darfur (UNAMID) on 5 August, which resulted in the death of a Sierra Leonean soldier and left another seriously wounded.

**World’s Indigenous Peoples Day

The United Nation is observing the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples today.  On this day, the Secretary-General has urged for the strengthening of the rights of indigenous peoples around the world.

He said that indigenous peoples are the custodians of a valuable and fast-disappearing cultural heritage.  They must be supported to protect and develop their traditional knowledge, which benefits everybody.

In the lead-up to a World Conference in 2014, the Secretary-General has also urged Member States to take concrete steps to address the challenges that indigenous people face and commit to ending the human rights abuses they encounter in many parts of the world.

**Guest at Noon Tomorrow

And tomorrow, I will have as my guest Augustine Mahiga, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, who will join us via video conference to give an update on the situation in that country.

That’s it from me.  Yes, Mr. Abbadi?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Thank you, Farhan.  The Prime Minister of Turkey, [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan was… is very concerned about what’s happening in Syria, particularly on the Syrian-Turkish borders.  He has met with his chiefs of staff and is dispatching his Foreign Minister to deliver what he calls a severe warning to Syria.  And Syria said that if he does that, they will get a severe response back.  Is the situation… does the Secretary-General believe that the situation might threaten regional peace and security?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Regarding that, the Security Council is the one in charge ultimately of determining what constitutes a threat to international peace and security.  Certainly, the Secretary-General has made clear his own concerns about peace and security within Syria and its repercussions.  And as you know, he did speak by telephone with President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday, and once more discussed his concerns and the clear message from the international community that the violence needs to be halted, and he is prepared to follow up in the coming days as needed.

Question:  The Secretary-General has also the responsibility under Article 99 [of the United Nations Charter], the good offices article, to bring to the attention of the Security Council any situation that might threaten international peace and security.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  In this case, the situation in Syria has already been something that they have been discussing.  And as you may be aware, tomorrow is the deadline for the Secretariat, for the Secretary-General’s Office, to report back to the Security Council about the situation in Syria, and we do expect to provide a report, an oral report to the Council tomorrow.  Yes?

Question:  Sure, I wanted, first, something that is taking place in the Council; there are… after the Yemen discussion, they are discussing Libya and I am told that one of the… a number of the Member States are expressing concern about the NATO bombing of State television in Libya.  So I wanted to ask, I understand that some other parts of the UN system have spoken on this, but given the Secretary-General’s coordinating role, however defined under [resolution] 1973 (2011), what does he believe… does he have any comment on… does he believe it’s proper under 1973 to bomb a television station?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  In terms of that, we would need further details about what the operations were that were conducted.  But certainly, the Secretary-General believes that resolution 1973 has been used properly in order to protect civilians in Libya and he has continually emphasized the need, as this proceeds, to make sure that civilians in Libya will be protected.

Question:  But how does bombing a TV station protect civilians?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  We would need to have any further details about what this action was.  As you mentioned, this discussion may be going on in the Council as we speak.  So we’ll leave that to them for the time being.

Question:  Also I want to ask you about Nepal.  There were these arrests of Maoist former child soldiers, they were part of a UN disarmament programme and they were protesting in part the UN having disqualified them, they have been arrested by the Government in Nepal, and I just wonder where is the UN… does the UN have any response to that, or they’re trying, making sure, given their previous relationship with them, that they are treated fairly, and what do they think of this?  What’s the response?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  We’ll check whether our human rights colleagues have any response to this.  And with that, I wish you all…

Question:  May I ask one more?  On his trip, I guess this was, I have never heard of this thing before, but Ban Ki-moon has named Samuel Koo as the UN Commissioner-General for the Yeosu Expo.  This was in the South Korean press, and I just wanted to know, is there… what is this Commissioner-General position?  Is it a paid position?  What’s… was this announced here?  What… what’s this all about?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  It’s not an announcement that we have made from here.  We’d have to check what the report is on this particular thing.  It’s certainly not an appointment that we’ve announced from here, however.  Have a good afternoon, all.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.