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

14 September 2011

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

14 September 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 Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.


Good afternoon, everybody.  Welcome to the briefing.


**Noon Guest


My guest today will be Elhadj As Sy, who is the UNICEF Regional Director for East and Southern Africa.  And he will be here to brief press on the crisis in the Horn of Africa.


And I’d also like to welcome here at the briefing today the 2011 World Press Institute Fellows who are here sitting in on the briefing today.  So, welcome to you.


**Secretary-General — 7 billion Actions Initiative


As we speak, the Secretary-General is launching the 7 Billion Actions Initiative.  In just seven weeks, the global population will reach 7 billion.  And obviously the Secretary-General is saying we are not simply here to acknowledge that milestone, but to address all the vast implications.  He is expected to say that the campaign being launched is a clarion call to people, communities, countries, and our partners, such as non-governmental organizations, businesses, academics, and faith leaders.  And we will have his full remarks available shortly with more details on that initiative.


** Libya


Ian Martin, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Post-Conflict Planning for Libya, is expected to arrive in Tripoli tomorrow to continue his consultations with the National Transitional Council on the UN’s planning for the provision of post-conflict support to Libya.


** Haiti


The Secretary-General has sent a senior team led by Assistant Secretary-General Anthony Banbury from the Department of Field Support, Military Adviser General Babacar Gaye and Police Adviser Ann-Marie Orler to meet with the Mission’s leadership in Haiti and to support all necessary measures being taken by the Mission, MINUSTAH, to enforce the UN’s zero-tolerance policy on misconduct by its personnel.


In addition, the team will meet with the Haitian authorities to convey to them how seriously the United Nations and the Secretary-General himself take the allegations of misconduct and sexual abuse.


The UN appreciates the swift response of the Government of Uruguay, including the investigation that is under way, and the Government’s stated commitment to taking all appropriate disciplinary and, if required, judicial measures following the investigation.


**Security Council


The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga briefed the Security Council this morning.  He said that, although the security situation remains fragile and tenuous, this is a good opportunity to end the transition and to stabilize the country.


He noted the peace process has moved forward and that even holding the Consultative Meeting in Mogadishu, in an unstable environment, was an achievement.  According to Dr. Mahiga, the withdrawal of Al-Shabaab from Mogadishu has offered the Government a chance to expand territory under its control and enhance its legitimacy by delivering services to the population.


Addressing the humanitarian crisis in the country, he said the Security Council and the international community have a moral authority to help ensure aid reaches famine-stricken areas of the Horn of Africa.  And you can find a copy of his speech in our office.


The Security Council this morning also adopted resolutions on Sierra Leone and the tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.


And the Council has scheduled consultations for 4 p.m. this afternoon on Serbia.


** Darfur


The Joint Special Representative for the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said the mission is working closely with the Government of Sudan and the Liberation and Justice Movement on implementing the Doha Document for Peace in the region signed in July.


Ibrahim Gambari told reporters in Khartoum that efforts to further stabilize Darfur and initiatives to promote early recovery and development are ongoing.  He said that we strongly believe that giving the people of Darfur the security to return to their homes and opportunities to build livelihoods is the best guarantee for enduring peace.  Mr. Gambari repeated his call to other groups to join the peace process and contribute to building a better tomorrow for all Darfuris.  His full statement is available on the mission’s website.


** Pakistan


The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, will be sending family tents and crucial relief supplies to communities in Sindh and Baluchistan that are being affected by torrential rain and flooding in Pakistan.


The bulk of the relief items, including 10,000 tents, 20,000 plastic sheets, and 10,000 kits of household items, are being sent to southern Sindh.  The first UNHCR relief convoy consisting of 2,000 tents, 4,000 plastic sheets and 2,000 household kits is expected to arrive in Badin tomorrow.  More than 140,000 people in Sindh will benefit from these tents and supplies in the next days.  The agency is also supplying 800 tents and 900 plastic sheets, as well as hundreds of other relief items to communities in Baluchistan.


The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates the number of people affected by the floods at 5.5 million and some 230 people have died.  The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says organizations are using contingency stocks and diverting resources from early recovery programmes to meet these life-saving needs.  Water sources are no longer considered safe, leaving people to rely on open pond waters, and at risk of contracting communicable diseases.


** Cyprus


The leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities discussed the citizenship issue this morning in Nicosia.  Following the talks, Lisa Buttenheim, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, told reporters that the atmosphere was warm and friendly.  The leaders’ next meeting will take place on Friday, this Friday, 16 September, during which they will discuss the economy chapter.


**Press Conferences Tomorrow


Tomorrow, as we’ve said, at 11:30 a.m., there will be a press conference here by the Secretary-General, in this auditorium.  That of course means there won’t be a noon briefing.


And then at 2 p.m., there will be a press conference by Dr. Ala Alwan, Assistant Director-General for Non-Communicable Diseases and Mental Health of the World Health Organization, and this will be a briefing on the high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases, which will take place next week on 19 and 20 September.


So, that’s I have.  I’ll be happy to take questions, but I believe that my guest has arrived.  So, perhaps, the way we will do this is that we will ask my guest, Mr. Sy, to join us here and to brief you, and I will take questions at the end of the briefing.  Happy to do so, as always.  So, please, take the whole seat, as well.


So, just to introduce my guest again, Elhadj As Sy is the UNICEF Regional Director for the East and Southern Africa Region, and he is overseeing UNICEF’s response to the crisis in the Horn of Africa.  He has travelled widely in the region and has first hand experience of this crisis.  He is in New York, as I understand it, to attend the UNICEF Executive Board meeting and to report on children in the East and Southern Africa Region.  And of course we are delighted to have you here to be able to brief press on this major crisis that is under way.  Mr. Sy, the floor is yours.


[Press conference by Mr. Sy is issued separately.]


Okay, I am happy to take other questions that you may have.  Yes, please?


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Thank you.  Martin, the Secretary-General’s press conference tomorrow, is he putting out anything in particular, or is it just a general press conference?


Spokesperson:  This is a general press conference, bearing in mind of course the general debate next week.  I think he will be able to sketch out a little bit for you what the big high points of the coming general debate session will be and particularly the various high-level events that will be taking place on the margins of the General Assembly.  So, I think it is in that context.  And, of course, he is then taking questions that you put to him in the usual fashion.  Yes?


Question:  Yes, Martin.  In view of the deteriorating, worsening situation of floods in Pakistan, which you described in your opening statement, does the Secretary-General plan to issue a flash appeal for funds or international support to help the efforts of the Pakistani Government in alleviating the situation?


Spokesperson:  Well, as you know, the Secretary-General has spoken about this and spoken to the leadership in Pakistan about these floods, which as you know, are coming at a time when the country was still recovering from the devastating floods of last year, which the Secretary-General witnessed himself.  I would need to consult with my colleagues from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to see what the position is on funding and any potential appeal.  I’ll need to come back to you on that.


Question:  Is there any high-level visit being planned as was done last year when Pakistan was hit?


Spokesperson:  Well, there is clearly a strong presence on the ground and there has been for a long time and very specifically related to the floods of last year and that was continuing and does continue.  And as I was mentioning, part of that recovery programme has to be re-tooled at the moment to help with the emergency needs that there are right now.  But, I know that colleagues from different parts of the UN system and coordinated by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs are really looking at this very closely and moving very fast as you have heard me say, to get supplies in to help as best we can and as fast as we can.  So, let me see if I can get a further update on that for you. 


Correspondent:  Thank you.


Spokesperson:  Mr. Abbadi?


Question:  Thank you, Martin.  Yesterday, the President of the General Assembly singled out the role of the General Assembly in peacemaking and in mediation and in diplomacy in resolution of the conflict.  And he referred to former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld.  The Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon did the same.  Now, we have three active elements who will be active in peacemaking, the General Assembly, the Security Council — its proper role — and the Secretary-General, as you know, strives to do peacemaking and the resolution of the conflict.  How are these three roles going to be coordinated?


Spokesperson:  In the usual fashion.  The Secretary-General works very closely with each presidency of the Security Council, and, of course, with each annual — and that’s obviously rotating monthly — and each annual president of the General Assembly session.  The Secretary-General has already had meetings with the incoming President of the General Assembly with precisely this in mind.  As has been stated quite clearly and obviously, this is an extremely important period for the General Assembly and for the Security Council with everything that is going on in the world, whether is it Somalia and the Horn of Africa, as we’ve heard, dealing with emergency relief and development requirements, whether it is the Middle East and North Africa, looking at the political developments that there are there.  There is an enormous amount to be done, climate change and the Secretary-General’s major priorities, sustainable development.  These are all interlinked, and the various intergovernmental bodies that you are referring to and the Secretariat headed by the Secretary-General have… each have important roles to play.  Coordination is crucial and on the part of the Secretary-General for whom I speak, there’ll certainly be efforts to coordinate that very closely.  Just finally, that every month, at the very least, the Secretary-General meets with the heads of the Permanent Missions of the countries sitting on the Security Council as a group.  This is an important coordination mechanism.  And clearly a lot more is going on during the course of the month.  But, at least each month, there is a sit-down session to coordinate matters in the way that you are suggesting.


Other questions, please?  Okay, I wish you a good afternoon.  Thank you.


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