HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 20 OCTOBER 2014
W.H.O. DECLARES NIGERIA EBOLA-FREE
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared Nigeria free of Ebola virus transmission, after 42 days without a single case. In a statement, WHO called it a spectacular success story that shows that Ebola can be contained. Such a story can help the many other developing countries that are deeply worried by the prospect of an imported Ebola case and eager to improve their preparedness plans.
- The announcement comes only a few days after Senegal was also declared to be Ebola-free.
- On funding for Ebola response, the Trust Fund set up by the Secretary-General now has $8.8 million in deposits and $5 million in commitments.
- In total, $43.5 million have been pledged and the Secretary-General continues to urge countries to turn these pledges into action as soon as possible. All numbers are available on the Ebola Multi-Partner Trust Fund’s website.
- A UN Women staff member in Sierra Leone passed away this weekend from Ebola. His spouse is currently receiving treatment. All measures to protect staff at the duty station in Sierra Leone are being taken as best as possible under the current circumstances, including the decontamination of the UN clinic, and disposal of the isolation facility and contact tracing.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS ON SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY TO SUPPORT DEVELOPMENT GOALS
- Addressing the European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN) event, marking 60 years of science for peace and development, the Secretary-General called on the scientific community to invest a significant proportion of its talent and resources over the coming year to research that would accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the future of the Sustainable Development Goals.
- The Secretary-General added that he has created a scientific advisory board to prepare regular assessments in matters of science, technology and innovation, especially for sustainable development.
WORLD MUST REMEMBER SUFFERING OF SYRIANS AND ACT, SAYS U.N. AID CHIEF
- The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, met displaced people from Syria on Sunday at the Yibo Transit Centre in Suruç, southern Turkey, close to the border with Syria.
- The centre shelters 5,000 people - half of them children - who have fled from Syria. Ms. Amos spoke to the press in Ankara today and emphasized that the people she saw need shelter and other help.
- Some 170,000 civilians have fled from Kobane in Syria, also called Ayn al-Arab, into Turkey in recent weeks. There are nearly 900,000 registered Syrian refugees and an estimated total of 1.6 million Syrians seeking refuge in Turkey. Inside Syria, nearly 11 million people need aid. The crisis is becoming even more acute with the onset of winter.
- Ms. Amos underscored once more the need for continued and unhindered access for aid workers in Syria so that they can deliver much needed assistance. She also emphasized the need for a political solution in Syria. The world must remember the suffering of the Syrian people and act, she said.
HUMANITARIAN OFFICIAL IN IRAQ STRESSES NEED FOR GREATER WINTER PREPAREDNESS
- The acting Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Neill Wright, called today for greater winter preparedness across Iraq. As winter nears, approximately 800,000 people are in urgent need of shelter assistance, and at least 940,000 lack essential household and other life-sustaining items.
- The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the lead agency responsible for shelter, currently has the capacity and resources to respond to the needs of just 30,000 families - less than half of the overall requirements.
- A report published by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) documents the alarming rise in executions carried out by Iraq since the restoration of the death penalty in 2005. Between 1 January and 30 September of this year, at least 60 people have been executed.
- Nickolay Mladenov, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, said that the large numbers of people who are sentenced to death in Iraq is alarming, especially since many of these convictions are based on questionable evidence and systemic failures in the administration of justice. He called upon the Government of Iraq to reconsider its position on the imposition of the death penalty.
AID AGENCIES REMAIN CONCERNED ABOUT VIOLENCE IN BENI, D.R.C.
- The humanitarian community in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is extremely concerned about the lives of thousands of people who are trapped in a spiral of violence near Beni, in North Kivu province. Several villages have been recently attacked by rebels believed to be from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that thousands have been displaced from these attacks and fled to safer areas. The United Nations Mission in the country (MONUSCO) is boosting its presence in the area.
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, condemned the decision of the Government to order his top official in the country to leave within 48 hours, and the serious intimidation aimed at other human rights staff in the country.
- The decision to declare Scott Campbell, the director of the UN Joint Human Rights Office, persona non grata was confirmed on Friday, despite a concerted effort by Martin Kobler, the Head of the UN Mission, to persuade the Government to reconsider its decision.
- The High Commissioner said that with these acts of intimidation and reprisal, the Congolese authorities risk setting back years of strenuous efforts by UN human rights staff and some sectors of the Congolese authorities to assist victims of human rights violations.
U.N. ENVOY IN SOMALIA CONDEMNS VIOLENCE IN HIIRRAN
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, has condemned an attack on the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces in Hiiraan region.
- Armed men and rioters blocked and attacked AMISOM troops yesterday morning while they were on a mission to help restore peace near the village of Deefow.
- Mr. Kay added that the UN remains committed to supporting the Somali people, the Federal Government and AMISOM as they work together to restore peace.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEFS CONCERNED OVER DETENTION OF OPPOSITION LEADER IN VENEZUELA
- The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has expressed serious concern today at the continued detention of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, as well as more than 69 other people who were arrested in the context of public protests which started in February.
- The High Commissioner met Leopoldo López's wife in Geneva on Friday, and discussed the situation of all detainees and their families. Last month, the Working Group on arbitrary detention said that the detention of Leopoldo López, as well as the detention of former mayor of San Cristobal Daniel Ceballos, was arbitrary.
- The High Commissioner called on the Venezuelan authorities to immediately release Mr. López and Mr. Ceballos, as well as all those detained for exercising their legitimate right to express themselves and protest peacefully. He also deplored the continued reports of threats and intimidation directed at people working to defend human rights in Venezuela.
LANG LANG AND STING TO PERFORM AT UN DAY CONCERT
- On 24 October, in celebration of UN Day, world renowned-pianist and United Nations Messenger of Peace Lang Lang will perform in a concert at the headquarters. He will be joined by Grammy Award-winning musician Sting and an international youth orchestra conducted by Manuel López-Gómez.
- The concert offers an opportunity to highlight the UN’s focus on youth and the education of global citizens. It also marks an important milestone – the global observance of the 70th anniversary of the UN.
- At 12:30 p.m. on 24 October, there will be a press conference, where Conductor Manuel Lopez-Gomez and a member of the orchestra will take questions on the concert.
*** The guest at the noon briefing was Zainab Hawa, the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict ***