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

23 May 2013

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

23 May 2013
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 Eduardo del Buey, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to noon the briefing.

**Secretary-General’s Travel

We have Martin Nesirky on the line from Kigali, I believe.  Martin, can you hear us?

Spokesperson for the Secretary-General:  I can, indeed, and yes, I am in Kigali at the moment with the Secretary-General and the President of the World Bank.  The Secretary-General arrived in Rwanda a little earlier today with the President of the World Bank, after a visit to Goma in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  I should tell you that our motorcade is just about to start to move, so if you hear background noise, that is going to be other people getting into the van that I am in.  We are on our way to meet President [Paul] Kagame right now.

So in Goma, the Secretary-General and Dr. [Jim Yong] Kim visited a hospital that treats victims of sexual violence.  And the two leaders also spoke to reporters in Goma, and we’ll aim to bring a transcript of that encounter just as soon as we can.  I think you will have seen we’ve already issued the Secretary-General’s opening remarks there at that press encounter.  So, as I said, about now, we are just about to leave to go meet President Kagame.  And he will also — the Secretary-General along with Dr. Kim of the World Bank — will also be meeting other cabinet ministers in the Rwandan Government.

Here in Kigali, just a little while ago, the Secretary-General spoke at the Rwandan police headquarters, and this was again to focus on the fight against violence against women and girls.  And he also visited a centre for disabled ex-combatants, and both Dr. Kim and the Secretary-General visited the Gisozi genocide memorial site, where they were able to lay wreaths.  It is raining on and off here, but quite hard, and so the mood there at that memorial site was quite sombre, as you can imagine.

So, tomorrow, the Secretary-General and the World Bank President will fly to Uganda, and that will be the last leg of their joint visit to Africa.  So, I can take a couple of questions from you, with apologies again if there is background noise.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Okay, Martin, thank you so much.  Questions, ladies and gentlemen?  Matthew?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Sure, Martin, thanks for… thanks for calling in.  Two questions about the DRC and then one, if you don’t… if you can take it, about Uganda.  Did… what members of the Congolese opposition, either… both asked to meet with the Secretary-General and did he in fact meet with, while he was in Kinshasa?  And has the issue of Minova and the… and the mass rapes that took place there in the… and… and the moves for accountability was… did this come up during his time in eastern Congo?

Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General has spoken very clearly about the key point here, which is that there can be no impunity for crimes of that kind, and he spoke very clearly with President [Joseph] Kabila in their meeting yesterday.  Specifically, about the role of the FARDC [Congolese Armed Forces] at the moment in current operations just outside Goma, that the FARDC do have the primary responsibility to protect civilians.  And you asked about civil society, there were encounters with civil society.  I would come back to you with more details on that a bit later, Matthew.

Question:  Okay, I just want, if you don’t mind, there… there is this guy called [Eugene] Diomi Ndongala that’s supposedly… his wi… his… his wife has wrote [sic] a letter to Ban Ki-moon while he was there, it says he is a political prisoner.  I just wanted to know, can you say, was the Secretary-General aware of that letter, you, can you say anything about that?

Spokesperson:  I am not aware of that letter.  Again, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t received, but I am not aware of it.  So please, send the name in your time-honoured fashion, Matthew, to my team, and we will look into it.

[The Spokesperson later said that the letter has not yet been received.]

Deputy Spokesperson:  Any other questions, ladies and gentlemen?  Okay, Martin, that seems to be it.  Thank you so much for calling in and safe travels to you and the team.

Spokesperson:  Okay.  Just very briefly to say that this joint venture, if you like, the visit here, both to DRC and today Rwanda and tomorrow to Uganda, has really underscored the importance of this partnership that’s really being strengthened between the United Nations and the World Bank group.  It’s really showing that that partnership will help to deliver.  And it also is really underscoring the link between peace and security and development that involves the development agencies within the UN system, including UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] and the World Bank group who work in any case, closely on the ground in places like the DRC and Rwanda.

But I think we are going to see a strengthening of that partnership, and you will have seen images, I am sure, of both Dr. Kim and the Secretary-General in lock-step, as it were, on this trip.  And I think that’s very encouraging to the people of the region, particularly for this Framework Agreement that is dealing with peace, security and cooperation.  Of course, the foundation to all this is development.  So, more on that anon, but thank you very much for having me phone in, and we will see you soon.  Bye for now.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Thank you, Martin.  Safe travels.

**Security Council

Ladies and gentlemen, the Security Council held consultations this morning on Sudan and South Sudan, as well as the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).  Council members were briefed by Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.

** Sudan — Amos

The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, wrapped up a visit to Sudan today.

Speaking to the press in the capital, Khartoum, Ms. Amos said that the purpose of her visit was twofold:  first, to look at humanitarian operations in the country, while the second was to build trust and confidence so that the UN is in a stronger position to help meet the humanitarian needs of people in Sudan.  While in the country, Ms. Amos met with the President, as well as other senior officials, UN agencies and others, in Khartoum and in Darfur.  She saw first hand the humanitarian situation in Darfur, where she visited the Zam Zam camp.

Ms. Amos stressed that we cannot let Darfur slip off the radar screen of the international community.  With 1.4 million people still living in camps, and a majority of the people in Darfur still suffering from inadequate access to basic health care, education and other services, the challenges remain enormous.

She also said that we also need to change the way we work.  After 10 years of major humanitarian operations in Darfur, we need to find more sustainable ways of supporting displaced people who have no other option but to remain in the camps.  We need to build stronger bridges between humanitarian and development work.  Her full statement is available upstairs in our office.

**Global Economy

Global economic activity is projected to slowly gain momentum, but employment gains will remain weak, says the UN World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) 2013 midyear update, launched this morning at a press conference here.  The report shows ongoing weaknesses in developed economies, which continue to face major risks and uncertainties.

The Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, Shamshad Akhtar, said that the main priority for policymakers worldwide should be to support a robust and balanced global recovery, with a focus on promoting job creation.  More detailed regional analyses are available online.

**Press Conferences

And today at 1:30 p.m., there will be a press conference on issues affecting indigenous peoples in the African region, as part of the ongoing twelfth session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues by representatives from Africa.

Tomorrow at 1 p.m., there will be a press conference here by Claudio Grossman, the Chairperson of the Committee against Torture and the Chair of the twenty-fifth meeting of human rights treaty bodies, which starts on 20 May.

Questions, please?  Masood?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Yes, sir.  Tell me about this programme.  The Committee to Protect Journalists today said that the United Nations has launched a programme to protect journalists in Pakistan who have been constantly targeted by various militant groups in Pakistan and all that.  Do you have any idea what is this particular programme that the United Nations is now sponsoring?

Deputy Spokesperson:  No, but I would imagine that you would have to contact UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] for that.  Normally it is UNESCO that deals with journalists.  We’ll try and find out, but you might want to contact UNESCO spokesperson’s office.  Matthew?

Question:  Sure, I… I want to ask a couple of things about the Golan and UNDOF [United Nations Disengagement Observer Force].  One is, there… there… there has been renewed statements by Austria that they would… would withdraw their 300-some peacekeepers if an arms embargo is… is in any… is modified to the Syria… Syria and the rebels, and I wonder, does the UN, given that its… its need for peacekeepers, does it have any view on… on that?  And also, I have seen at least… I have some information about a Syrian filing with DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] yesterday about the 15 May kidnapping in… in… well, detention of a peacekee… of a peacekeeper in the Golan Heights, and I am wondering… I would like just to get the UN’s view of… of… of this information that has come in, particularly as regards Qatar’s involvement in the kidnapping.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, number one, we have no information from the Austrians at all on any decision they may or may not have taken, so we are not going to comment any further on that.  And the second one is?

Question:  The second one is… is a… is a… is a filing by… you know, by the Syrian Permanent Mission to the United Nations with DPKO, dated yesterday, about the 15 May kidnapping, and I wanted to know, maybe you don’t have it as an if-asked, if there is some… if you can, I guess, check with DPKO if they wanted… put their gloss on… on… on the information they have been provided with.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, we’ll check with DPKO to see if they have received something and see if they have anything to say.  Masood?

Question:  Yes.  In her address, Ms. Amos says that now in Sudan the Government is now giving more easy access to the people affected by the war over there under the conditions in the whole, in the camps, are appalling.  So, is there some sort of leeway given by the Sudanese Government to allow these agencies to work more smoothly?

Deputy Spokesperson:  No, we are still working with the Sudanese authorities to ensure that the UN agencies and NGOs [non-governmental organizations] can work in order to bring the type of assistance these people need on a daily basis.  That’s an ongoing work in hand.  Matthew?

Question:  Okay, first, can you confirm that the Security Council move has been pushed back from 24 May to 31 May?  Are you aware of that?

Deputy Spokesperson:  No, I am not aware of that.

Question:  Okay.  And here is a more… this is… I… I… I… I’d like to get your response to this.  It appears that… that, you know, for whatever reason, the UN has installed a… a… a… se… security camera on the third floor, press floor.  It’s… it happens to be right in front of the door of Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access, that’s why I am raising it.  But, what I am wondering is the following:  is… this issue arose when there was a temporary move to the… above the library here, whether the UN thinks it is appropriate to install surveil… you know, security or surveillance cameras in an area used by the press to meet with sources, is this something that was done by mistake?  Is it going to be removed?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, Matthew, I have seen your exchange of e-mails with Stéphane Dujarric, and I believe that Stéphane Dujarric is addressing this issue, so I…

Question:  How… is it coming down or is it staying up, that’s…?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I’ll leave it to Stéphane to explain it to you.  Okay, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.  Have a good afternoon.

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