HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY 13 JUNE 2012
U.N. SECRETARIAT WILL NOT CHARACTERIZE CONFLICT IN SYRIA
- Asked about remarks concerning whether a civil war is taking place in Syria, the Spokesperson, said that is not for the Secretariat to determine or formally characterize the nature of the conflict in Syria.
- What we are all focusing on, he said, is that there has been a dangerous intensification of armed violence across Syria in the last several days.
- That is something that the Secretary-General himself referred to in the statement that came out on Monday evening, and he also commented on the scale of the violence in his comments to the press last Thursday.
- Last week, Nesirky noted, the Secretary-General said in a press encounter that “the confrontations in certain areas of the country have taken on the character of an internal conflict.” He has made clear his concerns about the implications of an intensification of the conflict, both inside Syria and for the region.
- Asked about a formal determination of a civil war, Nesirky noted the role played by the International Committee of the Red Cross in making such a determination. He noted that the ICRC makes assessments concerning internal conflicts and internal armed conflicts, in line with its responsibilities under the Geneva Conventions.
- Other matters, he added, would be for the Security Council to determine. The situation of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) is already a challenging one, he said.
U.N. IRAQ ENVOY SHOCKED BY “DESPICABLE ATTACKS”
- Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, said that he was deeply shocked and utterly dismayed by the despicable attacks across Iraq on Wednesday.
- Those attacks have claimed the lives of scores of Iraqis, including many pilgrims, and have injured dozens more.
- Mr. Kobler urgently appealed to the Government to address the root causes of the violence and terrorism that are causing so much suffering and pain to the Iraqi people.
- He extended his condolences to the families of those who were killed and his wishes for the speedy recovery of those who were injured.
SPECIAL ADVISER ON MYANMAR ASSESSES U.N. SUPPORT TO RAKHINE
- Following a discussion with senior leaders on Tuesday in Naypyitaw, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Myanmar, Mr Vijay Nambiar, visited Rakhine State on Wednesday.
- The purpose of his visit was to observe and assess how the United Nations can continue to provide support to Rakhine.
FOOD AGENCY COMMITTED TO HELPING HAITI FIGHT HUNGER
- Ertharin Cousin, the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), has confirmed the Programmes’s commitment to support Haiti in finding sustainable solutions to hunger and malnutrition.
- During her first visit to Haiti, Ms Cousin met with President Michel Martelly.
- They resolved to work together to expand sustainable programmes, linking school feeding and education with reinforced local production.
- However, a significant reduction in donor contributions threatens the Programme’s ability to respond.
The World Food Programme in Haiti is at a critical point and requires US$54.6 million to keep programmes operating through this year.
U.N. MEMBER STATES URGED TO FACE UP TO REALITIES OF DISASTER
- The Secretary-General's Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström, urged Member States on Wednesday to face up to the realities of the economic and human impact of disasters since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro 20 years ago.
- She noted that in the past two decades, it is conservatively estimated that disasters have killed 1.3 million people, affected 4.4 billion and resulted in economic losses of $2 trillion.
- Ms. Wahlström voiced hope that the forthcoming Rio+20 conference will introduce time-bound, realistic sustainable development goals which will eradicate this enormous waste of human, social and economic resources.
SECRETARY-GENERAL “CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC” ABOUT RIO+20: Asked about the Secretary-General’s assessment about the process leading to the Rio+20 conference, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has said that he is cautiously optimistic, although there remains work to be done. He noted that the public has been galvanised in the run-up to Rio+20 to deal with issues of sustainable development.
U.N. SAYS MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE TO OPEN GAZA TO COMMERCIAL TRAFFIC: Asked about Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos’s comments about the blockade of Gaza, the Spokesperson noted the United Nations’ continued support for Israel’s right to security. At the same time, he added, although there have been some improvements in opening up Gaza to commercial traffic, much more needs to be done.