HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ, ASSOCIATE SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 18 JUNE 2012
SECRETARY-GENERAL ARRIVES IN MEXICO FOR G-20 MEETING
- The Secretary-General left on Monday morning for the G-20 meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico.
- In the afternoon, he was due to participate in the first plenary session on “The Global Economy and Framework for Strong, Sustainable, and Balanced Growth”, and he is also expected to hold bilateral meetings with a number of leaders.
- On Tuesday, he will attend the second plenary session, “Strengthening the International Financial Architecture and the Financial System and Promoting Financial Inclusion”.
- After his time in Mexico, the Secretary-General will leave for Rio de Janeiro for the Rio+20 meeting from 20-22 June.
U.N. MISSION IN SYRIA SUSPENDS ACTIVITIES
- In response to the recent intensification of armed violence across Syria, General Robert Mood, head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) announced on Saturday that the Mission is suspending its activities and that UN observers will not be conducting patrols and will stay in their locations until further notice.
- He said that the suspension will be reviewed on a daily basis. Operations will resume when the Mission sees the situation fit for the observers to carry out their mandated activities. A return to normal operations remains the Mission’s objective.
- General Mood said in a statement on Sunday that civilians continue to be trapped by the escalating violence in Syria. In Homs, attempts to extract civilians from the line of fire over the past week have been unsuccessful.
- He said that the Parties must reconsider their position and allow women, children, the elderly and the injured to leave conflict zones, without any preconditions, and ensure their safety.
- The UN Supervision Mission in Syria stands ready to monitor their release, once the decision is taken by the Parties.
- On Monday in Geneva, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said that all violations of the human rights of the Syrian people at the hands of all parties to the conflict must end.
- She added that the Government of Syria should immediately cease the use of heavy armaments and shelling of populated areas, as such actions amount to crimes against humanity and possible war crimes.
- Asked why General Mood announced the suspension of patrols, the Spokesperson said that the decision to suspend patrols was made following an intensification of armed violence across Syria, to which the Secretary-General and Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan had drawn attention.
- As General Mood made clear, the escalation limited the UN Mission’s ability to observe, verify and report, impeding its ability to carry out its mandate.
- The Spokesperson reiterated that the Mission intends to go about its mandated tasks as soon as conditions on the ground would allow that.
- Asked whether any UN observers had been injured in recent days, Haq said that none had been wounded, although there were many close calls.
- In response to further questions, the Spokesperson said that the decision taken by General Mood had been preceded by consultations by key officials.
SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS CONSULTATIONS ON ABYEI SECURITY FORCE MISSION
- The Security Council held consultations on Monday morning on the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei, known as UNISFA. Council members received a briefing by the Head of the Mission, Lieutenant-General Tadesse Werede Tesfay.
- In a recent report to the Security Council, the Secretary-General said that the security situation in the Abyei Area remained calm but unpredictable, owing to tensions associated with the continued presence of unauthorized armed forces in the Area, in violation of the 20 June 2011 Agreement, the parties’ failure to establish the Abyei Area Administration, the large-scale migration of Misseriya nomads and the gradual return of displaced Ngok Dinka.
- The security situation was also affected by the conflict on the border between Sudan and South Sudan.
2011 WAS RECORD YEAR FOR FORCED DISPLACEMENT, ACCORDING TO U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY
- A report released on Monday by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees shows 2011 to have been a record year for forced displacement across borders, with more people becoming refugees than at any time since 2000.
- In all, 4.3 million people were newly displaced, with a full 800,000 of these fleeing their countries and becoming refugees.
- Viewed on a 10-year basis, the report shows several worrying trends: One is that forced displacement is affecting larger numbers of people globally, with the annual level exceeding 42 million people for each of the last five years.
- Another is that a person who becomes a refugee is likely to remain one for many years – often stuck in a camp or living precariously in an urban location.
U.N. TO SEEK CLARIFICATION OF CHARGES AGAINST STAFFER IN ETHIOPIA: Asked about a staff member who faced criminal charges in Ethiopia, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations will look into this matter and work with competent Ethiopian authorities to receive clarifications regarding the charges.
SECRETARY-GENERAL HAS SAID THAT LEADERS SHOULD LISTEN TO DEMANDS OF PEOPLE: Asked about protests in Sudan, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General has repeatedly said that leaders should listen to the legitimate demands of the people. He added that the rights to free expression and to peaceful assembly should be upheld.