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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

THURSDAY, 31 JULY 2014

U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL WRAPS UP TRIP TO COSTA RICA; CALLS AGAIN FOR HUMANITARIAN CEASEFIRE IN GAZA

  • The Secretary-General met with the Foreign Minister of Costa Rica in San José last night and spoke to the press afterward.
  • Speaking about the situation in Gaza, he repeated his urgent call for an unconditional and extendable humanitarian ceasefire and said that, in the name of our common humanity, the fighting must stop now.
  • The Secretary-General also demanded that all parties immediately respect United Nations premises. He said that United Nations shelters must be safe zones not combat zones.

SECURITY COUNCIL: U.N. OFFICIALS REPORT INCREASING CIVILIAN DEATHS AND EXTENSIVE DAMAGE IN GAZA

  • Valerie Amos, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, and Pierre Krahenbühl, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), briefed the Security Council this morning on the latest developments in Gaza.
  • Ms. Amos said that after 24 days of conflict, more than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed – some 80 percent of them civilians – and more than 6,000 injured. Three Israeli civilians have been killed and dozens injured.
  • She said that more than 240,000 people have sought shelter in United Nations facilities, but added that many of those have come under attack, including the school that was hit yesterday, in which 19 people were killed. Seven United Nations staff have also been killed.
  • Ms. Amos said that United Nations personnel and premises must remain inviolable. She added that 24 medical facilities have been damaged or destroyed and voiced concern about the possible contamination of water and sanitation systems.
  • UNRWA’s Pierre Krahenbühl briefed the Council by video teleconference from Gaza City and said that he has seen extensive damage since he arrived in Gaza yesterday. Regarding the attack on the school in Jebalia yesterday, he said that UNRWA was in dialogue with Israel and expected Israel to conduct a transparent investigation into the matter.

HUMANITARIAN ENVOY IN IRAQ REMAINS CONCERNED ABOUT RISING VIOLENCE

  • The United Nations has expressed concern over rising levels of violence and instability across Iraq and its impact on the lives of civilians.
  • Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Jacqueline Badcock said that immediate, safe and unhindered humanitarian access is now urgently needed to deliver lifesaving assistance and restore basic services for communities affected by the conflict.
  • So far, more than half a million people have been displaced since June, bringing the total displacement this year to 1.4 million people. Since the beginning of the year, an estimated 5,500 people have been killed, including almost 900 people in July alone.
  • Ms. Badcock said that in many instances, basic public services, including health facilities, water supplies and power grids, have been targeted, worsening the humanitarian situation and access to people in need.

EBOLA INFECTIONS CONTINUE TO GROW IN WEST AFRICA

  • The number of individuals affected by the Ebola virus in West Africa continues to grow, with 1323 confirmed cases, including 729 deaths, according to the latest figures published today.
  • Despite the increasing number of cases in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization (WHO) still does not recommend any travel or trade restrictions.
  • However, the Organization continues to work together with its partners through the Sub-regional Ebola Outbreak Coordination Center in Conakry, Guinea, to accelerate the control of this outbreak.
  • WHO remains in close contact with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on potential efforts to facilitate repatriation flights, as well as matters relating to air ambulance services in the affected areas.

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW DEPUTY FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY AND CONFERENCE MANAGEMENT

  • The Secretary-General has appointed Catherine Pollard of Guyana as Assistant Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM). 
  • Ms. Pollard succeeds Franz Baumann of Germany, to whom the Secretary-General and the Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management are grateful for his dedicated service to the Department since 2009.
  • Ms. Pollard is currently Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management where she has served since 2008.

SECRETARY-GENERAL HOPES IMPACT OF ECONOMIC SITUATION WILL BE AS SMALL AS POSSIBLE ON ARGENTINE PEOPLE

  • Regarding the economic situation in Argentina, the Secretary-General’s foremost concern is for the Argentine people. He hopes the impact on the people of Argentina will be as small as possible.
  • The Secretary-General cannot comment on the legal proceedings. However, this case has raised crucial questions regarding sovereign debt restructuring processes. The IMF and many Member States have spoken out about this issue.
  • The Group of 77 and China, as well as regional bodies such as the Organisation of American States (OAS), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and MERCOSUR, have also made statements with respect to the Argentine case and its implications for future international debt restructuring efforts.
  • The Secretary-General believes that these are important issues for Member States to address, and he welcomes further discussions among them.

***The Guest at the Noon Briefing was the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Pierre Krahenbühl, who spoke to reporters via telephone link from Gaza.